In a period of 4 hours last night I went from surprise, to jealousy, to shock and finally to anger. Apparently some NBA owners didn’t get past the second one.
First I was surprised to find out about the Chris Paul to Los Angeles trade and then jealous that the Lakers got another star. Now everyone knew that the Hornets had to move Paul because he was leaving at the end of the season anyways. This would be the time to get the most in return for their lone perennial All Star.
Later on in the night it was reported that the Hornets trade had been overruled by someone higher up in the organization then the General Manager. That usually means an owner doesn’t like the trade for whatever reason. What people seem to be forgetting is New Orleans is run by the league after previous owners George Chinn and Gary Chouest were bought out for $300M by the NBA in December 2010.
Now it was time for a second round of shock, and this one kept me awake for a lot of the night due to the resulting anger and questioning of where the league can go from here.
The rumours floating around this morning don’t make it sound any better. Word out of New York is that other owners in the league, who are all gathered to ratify the new CBA, were whispering their discontent in the ear of one David Stern. If this is any truth to this and the Lakers really want to make this ugly, there is legal precedent for an investigation due to conflict of interest issues. But that is besides the point.
Let’s look at the trade first.
Hornets send Chris Paul to Lakers
Lakers send Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol to Hornets
Hornets then send Gasol to Rockets
Rockets send Luis Scola, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic to Hornets
Not to mention there would be some cap fodder and picks involved.
The question I have for the league is; how is this not a good trade for all three teams?
The Lakers would get their star player but gave up the only two players on their roster that can start at PF and would have boasted a front-court of a rookie, a sophomore with 215 minutes of pro court-time and Andrew Bynum and his creaky knees and 15-year-old girl temper. Western Conference big-men were already licking their chops.
The Rockets would pay a big price to solve their front-court woes giving up their top scorer, in Martin, on a team that struggled to fill the basket at times last year, a decent backup point-guard and an underrated power forward. In return they would get a genuine All Star big-man that they have been searching for since Yao went down. It’s not all that surprising that they would be willing to overpay as they were rumoured to have tabled a big offer to the Raptors for Chris Bosh last year. This move would also free up more cap space for them to make a run at a complementary piece like Nene, DeAndre Jorndan or, shall we dream, Marc Gasol.
The Hornets, the team apparently getting robbed, would lose an All Star yes but would boast a starting lineup next year of Jarrett Jack, Martin, Trevor Ariza, Scola and Emeka Okafor with Marco Bellinelli, Odom and Dragic coming off the bench and a bunch of cap room to fill out the roster. Half the teams that made the playoffs last year would lose to that team. It is also a lot more then they will get at the end of the year when Paul is free to walk.
And for those thinking Paul would probably agree to a sign and trade to help out the team he is leaving I have three points to make.
The Hornets, while expressing they were always trying to get Paul a supporting cast, constantly failed to get him anyone who could ease the pressure on him. David West, Ariza and Okafor? Not exactly pieces to push him to the next level so why would he repay them for stringing him along.
The team is owned by the NBA, the same league that just lowballed him and other players all summer and fall. Good luck to New Orleans signing any players if this team doesn’t get new owners.
They just blocked a trade to a team that would have made his career something special. Now he still has a chance to do that but what basketball fan wouldn’t want to see Paul and Kobe for 82 games a year? Well minus the games they play against your team.
Now after all of this, if there is any truth to the group of owners pushing Stern to veto the trade, it is terrible for the credibility of the league. Sure they will say it was because they couldn’t allow a star player to leave the small market team that drafted him on the day they sign the CBA that is trying to get rid of that but really that is the way pro sports are. But does that mean the league will veto any trade involving a big name player? If Dwight Howard gets traded, will it be vetoed? Or is it a bunch of owners of other teams who wanted Paul (cough, Dallas, cough, New York, cough) who are just jealous that they were unable to land the prize of the offseason and saw a way to get a second chance at it.
Whether this is true or not the league and David Stern need to remove themselves from all trade negotiations. This conflict of interest degrades the leagues credibility and with what just happened over the past months if this league lacks credibility, where do they go from here?
Not one to pull verbal punches, Rashad Evans might have pulled a Tyson Fury (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdFP-R_LYSM) during a trash talking battle with opponent Phil Davis at the UFC on Fox 2 press conference Wednesday night. Evans claimed he would “…put my hands on you worse than that dude did them other kids at Penn State…”. His bout with Davis, a Pann State alum, is rumoured to reward the winner with a title shot.
Fast forward 24 hours and another UFC fighter is in the news for making an obscene joke. Miguel Torres posted on his twitter account “If a rape van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises”. Within 5 minutes of the post it was removed and replaced with “If a windowless van was called a surprise van, more women wouldn’t mind going for rides in them. Everyone likes surprises”. Torres has since been released from the UFC. Heavy.com is reporting Torres claimed he was only quoting It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Now this begs the question, does this mean a child rape joke is less offensive then a “rape van” joke?
Now the problem I have with Evans’ comment is the direct connection with specific people, namely the victims who are in the middle of retracing the most painful times of their lives. It was a gutless comment and it does not matter if he said it in the heat of the moment or not. It was said, it was stupid and while I’m not condoning rape van jokes, I do believe the Evans comment was worse. And even if Dana White disagrees, you can’t go firing one guy and giving another a chance at a title for what is basically the same offence.
When the UFC announced that they would be hosting their 129 even on April 30 at the Rogers Centre, President Dana White promised that it would be a show for the ages. George St. Pierre’s title defense versus Jake Shields was announced as the headliner early and smaller fights have been trickling in week by week including Randy Couture vs Lyoto Machida and including well know fighters Nate Diaz and Ben Henderson. The rumours of other fights had slowed in past days giving the suggestion that the card was full causing some disgruntled murmurs.
Now the GSP fight is a huge draw on its own but the once co-main event status of Randy Couture is not what it once was. Well today fans got what they want as it was announced Jose Aldo will defend his featherweight title against an unknown contender thought to be Ontario native Mark Hominick if he is able to beat George Roop this Saturday at UFC Fight for the Troops 2.
Coming off a second round KO of Manny Gamburyan in WEC 51 in September, Aldo has been slowed by injury making this his first fight in the UFC after the takeover of WEC by the MMA giant. The Scarface will bring an 18-1 record to the ring that includes his current 11 fight win streak that spans over 5 years. The 24-year old Brazilian is known for his exciting fights as he has only gone the distance four times in his career which could mean fireworks if matched with Hominick who is 19-8 with only 5 decisions.
That makes two title fights and a solid under-card that includes a couple win or get cut bouts as well as fights that could help determine title contenders. Sounds like Dana has made good on his promise to bring a massive and exciting card to Toronto for display in front of what should be the largest UFC crowd in history. The Roger’s Centre should be be able to fit well over the previous record of 23, 152 within the 67,000-69,000 (capacity for WWE events) seat collosus but don’t expect a full house. Word out of the UFC is that the upper bowl is not to be fully opened, if at all, so there should be somewhere around 35,000-40,000 in attendance. Whatever the amount present, they will be in for one heck of a show.
As it is here is the card with the first 5 fights the most likely to be on the PPV. My predictions will come closer to fight night.
UFC 129 Card
Jose Aldo title defense vs. TBA
Giguere Ready to Move On?
“I haven’t been asked, I haven’t waived my no-trade” said Leafs goaltender J.S. Giguere today when asked whether he would be open to a trade. However that is not all he said. The 33-year old Montreal native went on, “If Burkie was to come see me I would owe him the respect to think about it and to talk to my family about it”. Sounds like a situation where it would have to be the right fit. The problem is the list of teams that would want him is pretty short if not non-existent, especially when teams like Tampa Bay and Detroit who were openly looking for a goaltender have already made their moves for Dwayne Roloson and Evgeni Nabokov respectively. Even if a team wanted him they will likely be scared away by his contract. While it is expiring, he is the third highest paid goalie in the league behind Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist. The emergence of James Reimer in recent weeks and with Jonas Gustavsson being pegged as the starter moving forward makes this an interesting issue to watch. J.S. G. has always been known as a great team player and is great for Toronto’s young players however if a suitor is found, Brian Burke will likely be ready to pull the trigger.
Koivu Heads Back to Montreal
Saku Koivu will once again play hockey in the Bell Centre tonight, but this time with the opposition. Two years after leaving the Montreal Canadiens in free-agency to join the Anaheim Ducks, the Finnish centre will return for the first time to face the team that drafted him 21st overall in 1993. As just the second Captain to lead the historic franchise for 10 seasons, Koivu was named to two All-Star teams and took the Canadiens to five post season appearances. He has a strong history with the franchise and the fans as they stood by him while he fought non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma during the 2001/2 season. Asked of what the response will be when he hits the ice Koivu was obviously full of fond memories for his old home. “I think we were able to build a special bond and relationship with the people of Montreal. They were behind me and supported me throughout my career and I don’t expect anything but a positive reaction.”
A match-up of the worst team in the NHL against the third-best in the league just got evened out. Pittsburgh announced that not only will Sidney Crosby continue his stay in the press-box but he will be joined by fellow superstar Evgeni Malkin when the Penguins take on the Devils in New Jersey on Thursday night. While the Pen’s are quiet on the extent or location of the injury, the whispering tells of a nagging left-knee injury that might be causing his 6-game scoreless drought. Crosby is still suffering from a concussion that has kept him out since January 5.
Trading Fins for Wings
Word out of Motown this morning has free-agent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov signing a contract with the Detroit Red Wings as early as late this afternoon. Like the unfortunate St. Louis Blues, who had Maric Svatos and Kyle Wellwood claimed recently, Detroit will have to wait 24 hours for him to clear waivers before they can officially announce his aquisition. In his last season with the San Jose Sharks in 2009/10, the Russian born Nabokov held a 44-16-10 record with a .922 SV% and 2.43 GAA helping lead the Sharks to the Conference Finals where they lost to eventual Cup winners Chicago. Nabokov has been a free-agent since a mutual contract termination with KHL team SKA Metallurg Magnitogorski in early December.
Brady Hurt, Cassel In… Again
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is preparing to have surgery to correct a stress fracture in his foot, after which he will have to recover by laying around his mansion with supermodel wife Gisele to fawn over him, all while awaiting what will likely be his second MVP trophy… poor him. Hopefully he has time to finally get a hair cut. In doing so he will miss the January 30th Pro Bowl in Honolulu, HI and will be replaced by none other than Matt Cassel. The same man who in 2008 took over QB duties at New England for Brady after an injury will be the fourth Kansas City Chief in this year’s event joining RB Jamaal Charles, WR Dwayne Bowe and G Brian Waters.
Hero to Villain
It has been nearly a year since Santonio Holmes was the Super Bowl MVP with Pittsburgh after a miraculous touchdown catch to seal the Steelers win. Traded for a 5th round pick and suspended 4 games for a substance abuse violation, Holmes will walk onto Heinz field this Sunday in a New York Jets uniform and presumably feel the wrath of the black and gold faithful. Don’t expect the Steelers to take it easy on their former comrade either as Holmes’ friend, and off-season work-out partner, CB Ike Taylor has made it blatantly clear what his plan is, “I’m not going to hesitate to lay him out”. Just in case you forgot, here is the catch.
‘Melo Deal Dead
After a two-month courtship, things have turned for tumultuous to torn-up after the New Jersey Nets announced they were walking away from trade talks for Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony. This conclusion had been a long time coming involving a lot of shady actions by both sides. Not only was Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov undermining his GM, Billy King, by demanding that the trade be made, but the Russian billionaire declined to tell him that the deal was off before yesterday’s press conference. The Nuggets were not entirely squeaky clean either as they had first demanded two first-round picks, a can’t miss prospect (Derrick Favors) and a couple other players before ramping it up to three first-round picks all while denying New Jersey the opportunity to talk to ‘Melo directly to work out a contract extension. With the deal dead it is uncertain where Anthony might go but rumours have New York searching for a trade that would get them first-round picks, Houston shopping their prospects, Nuggets talking to Chicago and you can never count out Mark Cuban, especially with his team coming off a 6-game losing streak.
Ya, I know what your thinking but look out for those Los Angeles Clippers. Winners of their last three, and six of eight games in 2011, the perennial basement dwellers are on the verge of breaking out. Behind rookie sensation Blake Griffin’s January averages of 27.8 points, 13.6 boards and a surprising 4.3 assists the Clippers have beaten both the Nuggets, Lakers and Heat in the past seven games and have a chance of having the best January record of Staple Center residents. No, I’m not kidding. The Clippers take a 6-2 record into Portland tonight to face a Blazers team who are debating building a wing on their knee rehabilitation clinic now that Marcus Camby becomes the fifth player this season and eighth in the past two seasons to undergo knee surgery. If the Clips come out of Oregon at 7-2 they will have five games left, Milwaukee, Golden State and Charlotte are very winnable games and a back to back against Dallas and Houston. It is entirely possible for the Clippers to head into February at 11-3 or 10-4. This would challenge the Lakers for best January record as the two-time defending champs have looked very mortal even with an 8-3 record and will be in tough with games against Boston, Sacramento, Utah and in Denver to close out the month. Whether the Clippers do beat hte Lakers or not, they are on the right path for the first time in… lets just say ever. Being 7 and 8 games behind the banged up 8th seeded Blazers and a 7th place Nuggets team that might get blown up, a playoff run isn’t out of the question with half the season still to go. And just for kicks here is a highlight reel for the Blake show in case you have been hiding under a rock. At 1:40 and 1:55 try and remember this guy is 6’10″ and 250lbs.
DeRozan Gets Second Chance
After losing to former Knicks guard Nate Robinson in last years competition, DeMar DeRozan has a chance to redeem himself in this year’s Slam Dunk contest. With the All-Star festivities being held mere miles from his home town of Compton, CA., this would be a great setting for the second-year guard to become just the second Raptor to win the contest, Vince Carter being the other in 2000. It took an injury to another Compton kid for the opportunity to come as Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings pulled out of the event after breaking a bone in his foot in December. He will be the only guard in the field which includes Clipper ROY candidate Blake Griffin, OKC’s Serge ‘Air-Congo’ Ibaka and Washington’s 7-foot centre Jevale McGee.
Small Forward Peja Stojakovic is rumoured to be on the verge of agreeing to a buy-out with the Toronto Raptors. The Yugoslavian deep-threat’s contract is up at the end of the season and he has only played in two games since being acquired in late November from New Orleans due to a lingering knee injury. With the Raptors infirmary almost full, his departure would open up a roster spot for another 10-day contract and most likely the signing of G Sundiata Gaines for the rest of the season.
Matt Versus the Goliaths?
Matt “if only his name was David” Sanchez slayed the second big name quarterback of his post-season when he beat Tom Brady and the Patriots. Just a week after sending Peyton Manning’s Colts out to pasture Sanchez and the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets will head into Pittsburgh to meet Big Ben Roethlisberger. No problem right? If they win they head to big D where just that will be needed against either Jay Cutlers Bears or more intimidating, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
UFC 129 Shaping Up
While the George St-Pierre (21-2) title defense against Jake Shields (26-4-1) makes the event watchable, UFC 129 has been criticized for lack of secondary fights worth watching. Sure there are Canadians all over the card but most people will agree that adding these fighters just because of their citizenship doesn’t provide for the most exciting fights available. Randy Couture (19-10) is still a legend and Lyoto Machida (16-2) makes their bout almost co main-event material on any other card, but not quite. The announcement that BC native Rory MacDonald (10-1) will take on Nate Diaz (13-6) has made UFC 129 worth watching more then just the main event.
For all the talk of Tevez being openly unhappy at Manchester City, he has still played remarkably well. Evident by his goal against Wolverhampton over the weekend where he waltzed through and put it home (check it out), he has helped keep City in what is becoming a three-team title race. A Machester United draw at Tottenham and an Arsenal win in West Ham has just two points separating the teams heading into the final third of the season.
Wellwood Finds a Home
I guess no-one told Kyle Wellwood that St. Louis only has one arch and it isn’t golden. Regardless, Mr. Wellfed is back in the NHL after a short stint with the KHL’s Mytishchi Atlant where he posted a dominating 8 points in 25 games. Okay not so dominating and he was released by the KHL and he is really only getting a shot because the Blues are backed into a corner. They have injuries and in battling for that last playoff spot they need a semi veteran player because their prospects aren’t ready. The thing is, they need someone who is good enough to warrant a shot but bad enough that he will clear waivers. Enter Wellwood.
Brett Favre Files Retirement Papers
It’s about damn time. Not that the retirement roller-coaster hasn’t been interesting but it should have ended a couple rounds ago. He will get in to the Hall as soon as the clock hits 12 on his eligibility day no question but how much will the past two years take away from his legacy? Only time will tell.
January is a time to start fresh. The beginning of a new year of opportunities. Coincidentally it is also the time of NBA All-Star voting; a process that is in dire need of a new start. But instead of just deriding it from my own perspective, I will lob some facts up for you and see if you can’t throw down this easy one like Blake Griffin would.
Imagine there was this man, we will call him subject A. At 7’6″ he is a monstrosity of a man who wreaks havoc on the game-plan of opposing teams. Now make him a national hero in China but disregard the fact he has never finished in the top 10 in any stat category besides blocks, even though he stands head, and often shoulders, above the competition. Now let him play 5 games over the course of two seasons and rule him out for the remainder of this season.
Now take subject B who is another impressive physical specimen at 7′ and is pegged to be the next national hero of Lakerland. Disregard that he is surrounded by current All-Stars and future Hall-of-Famer’s and that he only averages 55.6 games a season, excluding the paltry 18 so far this season. Sure he is only 23 but in his 5+ years in the NBA he has only posted one with over nine rebounds per game.
Lastly we will take a look at subject C. Banished to a cold and barren landscape, this less then dominating figure is currently doing something not seen in the league in nearly forty years. Post averages of over 20 points and 15 boards in a season. And while it doesn’t seem that ridiculously hard just think that the last player to do so was names Moses Malone and before that a guy commonly referred to as “The Stilt”. Added to this are his less than heroic sidekicks, not to mention his impressive shooting touch for a 6’10” power-forward, and you have a formidable feat on your hands.
Now let us look at the stats and voting for the 2011 All-Star game as of January 13th.
A bit ridiculous don’t you think? How about this for more ridiculous, Yao has more votes than Deron Williams and Russell Westbrook combined on just 90 minutes of playing time. That’s 4.6% of possible minutes this season and will slip to 2.3% by the end of the season.
Now I realize that Love is sequestered to the ridiculous grouping of Western Conference forward (in reality they need five categories not three) which hurt his numbers but realistically he pulling a Kevin Garnett in Minnesota with less help and better numbers. If he does not at least get recognized by the coaches of the conference and garnish a reserve position, I might lose faith in the entire process.
Now I see why they do the fan vote; everyone should get to see the players they want, this is just solid marketing. Back in the real world players should have to actually be playing the game to be eligible to play in the All-Star game. Just because the fans can vote for Hassan Whiteside does not mean he should play. For a player like Yao to make it after scoring 51 points and grabbing 27 boards this season is beyond comprehension especially when guys like Dirk Nowitzki are on the bubble with 707 and 221 on the year.
Here is an easy solution, pick a number that makes sense like 25; because most teams will have played 50 by the time the starting line-ups for the All-Star game are released. Now you set that number as the minimum game appearances needed to be eligable for the game. It keeps the fan vote and gives some credibility back to the process.