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Archive for June, 2008

Key Players Opting Out

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 30, 2008

With free agency upon us in about 45 minutes, three big name players have decided to opt out of the last year’s of their deals. One team that stands to lose two of those three players is the Los Angeles Clippers as both Corey Maggette and Elton Brand have decided to opt out. But before you panic about losing a premiere power forward in this league Clippers fans, just know that Brand has said he wants to re-sign with the Clippers. Maggette, on the other hand, will most likely be gone.

Keeping the subject in Cali, Baron Davis will leave the last year of his deal and pursue a long-term contract. According to Stephen A. Smith, BDiddy would love to play in New York for the Knicks. Yes, that’s right, someone actually wants to play for the Knicks. Problem is, New York is looking to save money for Lebron, Wade and Bosh in the 2010 offseason, so I don’t expect them to offer Baron a long-term deal worth any significant amount of money.

Another California-based team, the Sacramento Kings, got great news from Ron Artest. After waffling on the decision of whether or not to opt out of his deal, he has decided to stay one more year with the Kings. I find this a very interesting decision as teams with championship aspirations, namely the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics, would have pursued Artest’s services. Who knows, maybe Artest will get moved at the deadline assuming he won’t go back to Sacto.

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Starting a New Trend, Hurting NCAA Game?

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 30, 2008

Brandon Jennings, the #1 recruit in this year’s high school crop, has decided that he will be attending the University of Arizona for quite some time. That’s if he decides to attend college. Wildcat fans have been awaiting the next great guard to attend their school in Tucson. With studs like Mike Bibby, Jason Terry, Gilbert Arenas and Andre Iguodala, Jennings was pegged as the next guard to carry this program. Now there are reports that his SAT scores could be holding him back from being eligible to attend college. This means instead of sitting around for a year schooling kids at the local park, Jennings could hone his skills overseas in Europe, assuming a squad would be willing to sign him to a one year deal.

This has been an option since David Stern introduced the rule forcing kids to be one year removed from their respective high school graduation, but no big name recruit has ever gone this route. If I’m not mistaken, OJ Mayo tossed around the idea of doing just this, but he ultimately led his USC team to the NCAA tournament, only to get ousted in the first round by Michael Beasley. Jennings would be the first top-tier talent to deny the NCAA of his incredible talents and take it to Europe.

In the words of Jennings, “it would take the perfect situation” for him to go to Europe and play. Assuming he would be eligible to attend school here in America, would it be beneficial to go to Europe instead? Of course the monetary gains would be greater than going to college (unless you take illegal benefits, then that could definitely be debated). The exposure a top player in the collegiate game would get here in the states far outweighs any exposure they would get overseas. Also, the hype around Jennings, or any prospect for that matter, would build much greater here at school rather than playing for a club team in Europe.

Ultimately, this kid is going to make his money in the NBA. He could hold off on his big pay day for one more year and go to school, but the threat of having a devastating injury that would derail his career is a very scary thought, so the lure of the loot is always calling these kids’ names. For the players that could have gone straight to the league from high school, college is just a formality that they have to go through. Europe at least gives them a taste of professional basketball while being paid for your talents. Apparently, Jennings feels he’s one of those kids that could have done without school as displayed by this quote: “Besides I was planning on one year at Arizona.”

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What the Doc Orders

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 28, 2008

They day after the draft, Doc Rivers spoke about the free agents on the Celtics and wanting them all back.

“We would like to bring our whole team back. Pose we love. With P.J. we just don’t know. I talked to him right after the season, and he just didn’t know. But I told him that he had to go home and think about it. I would like to have P.J. back – our goal is to bring everyone back – but he’s going to need some time.”

I think Celtics Nation would agree with Doc on both of these guys. Posey is a player we must try our hardest to re-sign (although with Giddens and Walker around, maybe it isn’t as necessary to break the bank) as he brought so much to this team. PJ Brown was a perfect pick up by Danny. Allowing him to sit out the entire regualr season until there was 20 games left. This allowed PJ to be fresh and back into the flow of things when the playoffs started.

Doc Rivers also would like to see the dreaded Sam Cassell come back to this team.

“Sam just didn’t have long enough (to learn the system), but we want him back, too,”

Sam’s job was to come in and give us a reliable ball handler, veteran leadership at the point guard position and some clutch buckets down the stretch. Looking back at it, he may have been a liability at times when it came to his ball handling and he definitely wasn’t a point guard for this team by any stretch of the imagination. To say he didn’t have enough time to learn the system is a respectable thought, but when you decide every time you step on the court that you are running your own system, something is wrong there. Eddie House was our backup point guard the entire season until Cassell got here and we played great basketball. When House replaced Cassell as the backup point in the playoffs, he played great, so I see Sam I Am as one free agent we can do without.

Tony Allen has been a roller coaster since his knee injury. Before it, he was playing great basketball in place of Paul Pierce. After returning from that gruesome knee injury, he hasn’t been the same. He definitely doesn’t have the same explosion as he used to and has lost a lot of confidence in his game. By season’s end, I made the decision that I would love to have Tony back. After the draft, now I’m not so sure if TA has a spot on this roster.

Of course Doc would want everyone back from his championship team, but who wouldn’t? After winning a title, free agents always seem to leave to get their money. Posey has played for peanuts compared to what he’s worth, so you can’t blame him for trying to get his money. If Tony Allen can get a significant pay increase on the market, he has to go take it as he is one knee injury away from being out of the league.

Ultimately, I’m hoping we can bring back James Posey and Eddie House, let Tony  Allen, Sam Cassell and Scot Pollard walk and assume PJ Brown will retire. That would allow us to give Gabe Pruitt some minutes as the third point guard and our one concern would be to find a veteran, backup center to play the PJ Brown role later in the season.

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Prospect Analysis: JR Giddens

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 27, 2008

JR Giddens was a McDonald’s All-American and winner of multiple dunk contests when he was a senior with Lebron James. He was heading to Kansas to play for Bill Self, nothing but the norm for KU. He’s a freak athlete with long arms and legs, jumps out of the building and has good distance on his jumper. In his two seasons at Kansas, he averaged over ten points and three rebounds a game. Not overly impressive, but as an underclassmen on a heavily talented squad like Kansas, you can’t ask for much more. He had his usual steal and block numbers, probably more from his length than his desire on that end of the floor. Giddens had a chance to make a name for himself at Kansas, but he didn’t make the best decisions.

Giddens had always had some attitude problems, but one night during his sophomore season, he got into a bar fight off campus. During the fight, he got stabbed in the calf and required 30 stitches. At season’s end, both JR and Coach Self both agreed that transferring out of Kansas was the right thing to do.

After leaving Lawrence, Kansas, Giddens found himself sitting out a season at New Mexico. Going from the Big 12 to Mountain West conference, how could you not expect this kid to come in and be the man? He certainly did and it wasn’t exactly a good thing. Lobos coach, Steve Alford, suspended Giddens late in his junior season for, if nothing more, being a bad teammate. That could have been the turning point in this kid’s career as he came back his senior season and showed he has turned into a responsible adult.

In his final season at New Mexico, Giddens averaged 16.3 points, but more impressive were his 8.8 rebounds as a shooting guard. Those type of numbers, coupled with his unhuman athletic ability, give the Celtics a nice option off the bench behind Pierce, Allen and hopefully Posey. Not only can this kid put the ball in the bucket, but his length makes him a pest on defense. Although not always as dedicated to the defensive end of the floor as he was offense, on a championship team that prides itself on shutting down the opponent, how can you not get motivated?

There were plenty of choices Ainge could have made instead of Giddens. Mario Chalmers, point guard of the national champion Jayhawks, was on the board. If Giddens was still on that team, I bet he would have went a lot higher than 30th. Chris Douglas-Roberts, a first team All-American and leader of the runner-up Memphis Tigers, was waiting to be picked by anyone who would bite. Celtics could use a backup center and DeAndre Jordan could have been a great option to grab and let Clifford Ray go to work with. Instead of taking any of these prospects, Ainge hung his hat on Giddens. He was brought in for two workouts the day before the draft. Danny was already sold on the kid. Doc, watching his fire and competitive spirit on the court, quickly saw that this kid could be a great pick for the Celtics.

JR Giddens comes to a veteran loaded team and has no pressure to perform at a high level any time soon. If he sticks around with players like Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, he should be in good shape. He should be able to give some easy buckets for this offense while being a viable option for defensive substitutions late in quarters to give the starters a breather. He has a chance to make a name for himself and win a title very early in his career. The pressure is now back on him to show us that Danny didn’t make a mistake by taking this kid.

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Post-Draft Trade: Mayo for Love

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 27, 2008

Just minutes after the conclusion of the 2008 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Memphis Grizzlies have agreed, in principal, on a trade involving their first selections of the draft. Here’s the details:

Timberwolves get:

  • Kevin Love (#5 overall)
  • Mike Miller
  • Brian Cardinal
  • Jason Collins

Grizzlies get:

  • OJ Mayo (#3 overall)
  • Antoine Walker
  • Greg Buckner
  • Marko Jaric

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Mr. Irrelevant

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 27, 2008

With the 60th pick, the Celtics selected Semih Erden. This will be a typical draft and stash move and we very well may never hear this kid’s name again. Fran Franschilla did say one thing that caught my attention and that was that Erden is a “skilled big man”. Not many times do you hear that phrase thrown around for the 60th pick of the draft, so maybe there’s a chance. Semih, go work on your game son and perhaps we’ll bring you to the promised land in a few years.

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Purchasing Power: Celtics Buy Walker

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 26, 2008

After drafting JR Giddens at #30, we all thought that Ainge would wait for #60 to make his next splash. Well as was just reported, the Celtics have purchased the draft rights to Bill Walker from the Washington Wizards. If the Giddens pick didn’t assure Tony Allen of leaving, then this definitely does. Walker was a former high school teammate of OJ Mayo and paired up with Michael Beasley at Kansas State last season. He must be used to not being the star, so that should work out real well for him if he makes this team.

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Celtics Keep Pick, Take JR Giddens

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 26, 2008

Very interesting pick by Danny Ainge. Great talent but with some off-court issues. Also surprising to see im be our pick when Chris Douglas-Roberts, DeAndre Jordan, Mario Chalmers and Bill Walker were all on the board. But, in Danny we trust, so I can’t complain. I will have a much more in depth write up about this kid tomorrow.

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Blazers & Pacers Swap Lottery Picks

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 26, 2008

The first trade of the draft involves the Blazers… Who would have thought? The details of the draft go a little something like this:

Portland gets:

  • Jerryd Bayless
  • Ike Diogu

Indiana gets:

  • Brandon Rush
  • Jarrett Jack
  • Josh McRoberts

I like this deal for both sides. Pacers get a backup point guard as insurance for TJ Ford and a great prospect in Brandon Rush. Portland gets a great young talent in Bayless to pair with Brandon Roy. Good deal all around and I’m sure this won’t be the last one involving Portland.

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Latter Half of the Lottery

Posted by r1zzo23 on June 26, 2008

  • Clippers stay at #7 and grab freshman scoring sensation Eric Gordon. He told Stephen A he can play point guard, but we all know that’s not true.
  • Jumpin’ Joe Alexander goes to Milwaukee. No shock here at all. On a side note, have you ever seen a kid come out of nowhere like Alexander? I mean I didn’t hear about him until the final month of the college season and he’s now the 8th pick of the draft. He will be a good player for a long time.
  • With the first of their two first round picks, MJ and the Bobcats select DJ Augustin. First real shock of the draft considering the Bobcats could use a big man but also could have grabbed Bayless as a point guard. Perhaps the next TJ Ford (hopefully barring the injury concern).
  • The Jersey Nets grab Brook Lopez. Bilas considered him the 3rd best prospect in the draft, so this is the steal of the draft so far. He adds an inside presence that they desperately needed.
  • A surprise by my standards, the Pacers take Jerryd Bayless. Not sure why they go this direction after just trading for TJ Ford, but he was the best available talent.
  • Jason Thompson to the Kings. Andy Katz said last week his stock was on the rise and possibly into the lottery, but I still see him as a reach here. Darrell Arthur would have been a better pick, in my opinion, but should still be a rebounding force in the NBA.
  • Blazers add to their stable of young talent and grab Brandon Rush. Great addition to this roster, but now Portland needs to find some playing time for this kid.
  • Last pick of the lottery, Golden State snatches Anthony Randolph. Great, young talent but very raw. I was thinking Koufos at this pick, but Randolph’s athleticism should get him playing time right away. Listening to Jay Bilas talk, Randolph is a 6-10 lefty with skills and no muscle. Has anyone seen Brandan Wright?

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