RAMBLINGS OF A MAD BLOGGER PT 1

NBA AND IT’S RELATED ROUNDBALL TOPICS

In the time since my last blog post a lot has happened in the sports world. So to make up for lost time I’ll hit on a number of topics in each sport until my conscience is clear or I get carpal tunnel syndrome..

I should preface this post by talking about how the season ended. LeBron James led the Heat to their first title of the Big 3 era, in spectacular fashion. He defeated the the Pacers without Bosh and half of Dwayne Wade and had that amazing 45 point game against Boston to keep the Hear alive in the Conference finals.
Then with a healthy Bosh and a resurgent Wade (and role players) the Heat went on to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 5 games. James won Finals MVP after a triple-double in the close out game, gets the monkey off his back and all is right in the basketball world.

Meanwhile….

Dwight Howard is lurking somewhere in the state of Florida awaiting his turn to own the headlines. Then suddenly, Superman turns into Bizarro and does the most villainous thing possible. Howard asks for another trade after signing the extension last season, which opens up the “where will Dwight land” conversation for everyone to chime in.
Dwight was traded to the Nets via Sports Center at least twice, once in a four team deal, before teams realized only the Nets and Magic would benefit from the deal. As it stands now the teams making a real push for the NBA’s premier big man — that’s right Dwight Howard is better than Andrew Bynum and it’s not even close – are Houston and the Lakers. If either of those teams lands Dwight it could be a huge game changer in the west. Let’s face it a healthy Dwight Howard will dominate any other big man he faces. Put him with Pau Gasol and he could do serious damage. Put him in Houston and you could build a solid team around him. The determining factor is will he stay beyond one year. Dwight was rumored to only want to play in Brooklyn, which is why a deal has yet to be made, but could warm up to LA.

Brooklyn has been making some headlines of their own. They resigned point guard Deron Williams (using an iPad, which is pretty awesome by itself) and made a trade for my second favorite shooting guard, Joe Johnson (cool story bro). They inexplicable and very foolishly over paid to keep Brook Lopez for 60 million dollars — real money, not monopoly money — for sticking around during the Dwight saga. A noble move for team in a cut throat business, but still bad business. It appears though that the Russian Bruce Wayne, Mikhail Prokhorov will spend whatever he has to in order to be the best team in NY.

Which brings us to the ever puzzling, always entertaining, NY Knicks.

The Knicks have had an eventful off-season with what they’ve done and haven’t done. They have signed 39 year old point guard Jason Kidd, 38 year old center Marcus Camby and traded for former point guard Raymond Felton and center Kurt Thomas.

However, they are making headlines for willingly letting Jeremy “Linsanity” Lin sign with the Houston Rockets. Lin, a restricted free agent, was originally given a verbal contract from Houston worth about $20 million with the third year being worth about $9 million, prompting someone in the Knicks’ organization to say they would “match up to $1 billion”. The Rockets then upped the offer to $25 million with the third year being worth almost $15 million to try and scare the Knicks away. It worked. The Knicks weren’t sure if Lin was good enough to make top 10 money and also didn’t want to pay luxury tax penalties that could go as high as $40 million.

Money aside, it seems like the Knicks (James Dolan specifically) felt betrayed by Lin. Linsanity may have started with how Lin played on the court, but the frenzy was created by the NY Knicks’ marketing department. The shirts, the signs, and everything else, was created by the marketing team. And to be fair, they squeezed every dollar they could out of it. Lin doesn’t owe NY anything and the Knicks had the right to not match.

From a basketball standpoint Lin had some very good games – with and without the other two best offensive players Melo and Amare – and proved to everyone he could play. The Knicks needed his spark to help them get out of the funk they were in last year and as I fan I would have loved to see him back in the blue and orange.

One thing that seems to be overlooked is Linsanity didn’t win the Knicks a championship. All it did was make people who didn’t care about basketball, care a little bit more than usual.

Die hard Knick fans who have taken all the disappointment they the Knicks have dished out in the past 10 years alone shouldn’t been to hurt. The future is actually brighter than some people are forecasting. Raymond Felton was on a team that people seem to forget was doing as well as the Linsanity team was doing prior to the trade for Carmelo Anthony. He was averaging 17 points and 9 assists with a bruised wrist. Last season he fell way off, but in 2010 he was playing with the heart and passion that old school Knicks fans loved to see. If he comes in ready to play like he did back then and Carmelo, Amare and Tyson are committed to doing their jobs consistently, the Knicks won’t miss Lin at all. Sure they’ll lose a couple of bandwagon fans, but they can make up for that by just getting back to winning basketball.

Speaking of bandwagon fans, the Lakers pulled off the one of the bigger moves of the offseason, by pairing Steve Nash with Kobe Bryant. The Lakers send four future draft picks to Phoenix and in return they get a hall of fame player to run the show. The move has its risks though.

Nash is 39 years old, and usually lies on his back by the bench when he’s not in the game. You could also throw in that Kobe isn’t the best example of how to share the spotlight. I won’t go as far as to say Kobe is a bad teammate, but he hasn’t had the best track record i.e. Shaq, talking smack about Gasol through the media and about the beating spain in the Olympics, Phil Jackson..Did I mention Shaq? I digress. Kobe is an all-time great, Nash is an all-time great, Mike Brown is a good head coach and the Lakers have a very solid team, but they have to win now. The window is closing very quickly and adding a guy nearing 40 means you want results ASAP. Can they get past OKC with that roster and then overcome LeBron and the Heat? Nash hasn’t always been the best defender and those two teams are young and hungry to be at the top.

Miami pulled their own surprise move by landing Jesus Shuttlesworth, Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, which bolsters their bench. Both players are deadly from three-point range and Rashard Lewis has the size to cause match-up problems for a lot of teams, including their rival the Boston Celtics. I must say I was surprised to see Ray Allen leave New England, especially for the Heat. I was even more surprised to hear there was a rift between Rondo and Allen. The Heat still look like the favorites to win the title next year just by virtue of having the best player, but the two moves they made make it even more likely.

You know who else has the best player, 1992 Dream Team (Michael Jordan, duh). So I would have to pick them to beat this year’s team in a match-up of the two teams. Partially because this team doesn’t have all of the best players in the NBA on it and also because I don’t think everyone on this team cares that much. LeBron, Kobe and Durant would have something to prove, maybe Chris Paul and Deron Williams as well, but I think the rest of the guys are just happy to be there. Now a team with Derrick Rose, Dwight Howard, a healthy Blake Griffin, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh might be able to take it. But this team looks like it may have to fight to win the gold medal – especially since Pau Gasol wants to Kobe to leave him alone. Poor Gasol.

Stay tuned for part’s two and three of this series, which will cover NFL and MLB storylines.

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