Thursday, July 3, 2008

Offseason Off The Wall: 7.2.08

Your bi-weekly checkup on the offseason, featuring news, notes, opinions, rantings, and the all important Offseason Daily Survival Guide...


So Dizzle's a Clipp.

Feels strange, doesn't it? Not like a "TV makeovered slovenly dude in a new Armani suit" weird, but more like "Why is that man wearing a bright red Furry outfit while brazening a sledgehammer?" weird.

When he pulled the ol' disappearing act on the Dubs, everyone was pretty surprised. Me? Not so much. I'm a big fan of having reasonable expectations, and, like my daddy always said, "You can't blame a rattlesnake for biting you in the nuts. That's why it's a rattlesnake." *

Davis isn't you-know-who-who-used-to-play-in-Canada-and-now-is-having-learn-Chinese. He isn't selfish, a quitter, nor is he a problem child. He's also not smooth as butter, nor is he selfless in any sense that relates to basketball and his career in it. He's just a guy, trying to make as many bucks as he can off his talent. And he's got a lot of talent.

Baron Davis has moved twice now (three if you count the Charlotte-New Orleans move), and he's left some bitter feelings in both places. If you look at it, though, this isn't a sneak-off move, it's not Carlos Boozer, nor is it anything but a guy trying to secure his financial future (exorbitant though it may be). LA offered him a longer contract for more total money than the Warriors were willing to. All three sides of this did the right thing. From the end of last season, the Warriors said that they were going to devote their franchise to getting younger, and focusing on those players. The Clippers needed to provide Brand a reason to resign, and the only way to do that was to get the best free agent available. And Davis?

Baron wants to make movies. He likes culture, he likes celebrity, and you can tell he has more to offer, in his mind, than just basketball. Therefore, LA is the logical place for him. Throw in the fact that the Clippers were willing to commit to him for multi-years, and more money overall, and that little bit about "coming home" and it more than makes sense.

I go back and forth with athletes' behavior. Because at one point, I think about what if a company offered me more money to live in the city I was born in, to do more of what I want to do (write about this league), and make more money overall? How fast would I say yes?

It's not that I think they're equivalent. I think being able to make millions and millions for playing a game is a great privilege, and the adoration of the fans is not something to be taken lightly. But Davis did nothing unethical, beyond indicating that he planned to not opt out, and we all know there was probably more to the discussions between the team and Davis than we know right now. He thanked the fans, and in the end, he simly exercised a clause in his contract he has every right to. It's unfortunate, but it's part of the whole show.

Now it's time for the rest of us to catch up with this new world we've stumbled into.

*Note: "Daddy," AKA My Dad, never actually said that.
(Ed. Note: The following assumes that Brand resigns with the Clippers)

I've been making noise the last couple of weeks about the Clippers getting the eighth seed. Over at RU, I got hammered on it during the epic draft liveblog. I can understand the skepticism, and it's not like I saw the trade coming. But there was a reason I made that relatively kamikaze-istic prediction. The team has talent. Brand and Thornton started to click at the end of last season, Kaman was a flat out beast last season. Add in Eric Gordon and you've got a solid lineup if they could find a point guard. Well, they found one.

Additionally interesting is the effect of Davis on the rest of the roster. Tim Thomas, for example, is coming off the bench, which is where he's much better. He's also now working with a freelancing point guard, which is where he's excelled in the past. And while he's no Steve Nash, it at least leaves the possibility of Thomas contributing something, which is all they really need. Similarly, it means the wings can be a bit more aggressive, and that the Clippers don't have to run through Brand or Kaman every time down the court. Of course, unless Brand takes a massive paycut, Maggette's not coming back. But it's hard to think that Mobley or Marcus Williams won't benefit from this.

They have no bench, of course, but really, who does anymore? Don't answer that. Regardless, it's a step in the right direction, and with young players on payroll that they can move, it sets up a foundation for the Clippers to be legitimate again.

So what is the theoretical makeup of this team? Mortar shells and machine gun fire.

Brand and Kaman are practically oozing with sheer force and power. While neither are Dwight Howard, there's still a hustle and relentlessness that gives them some serious punch up front with both of them finally healthy. You add to that three legitimate scoring threats and this team can battle. Of course , they'll likely be a turnover machine, but hey. You want to make an omelet, you gotta turn the ball over a few dozen times.

Anyway, like I said.

Eighth seed.

And the Dubs?

We're not ready to write them off as entertaining just yet. Monte Ellis is still the fastest guard that can actually hit a layup consistently (we're looking at you, Barbosa), Captain Jack is still crazy clutch, Brandan Wright has a world of talent and just needs minutes, and Kelenna Azabuike is still the most entertaining player named Azabuike. Okay, so they're probably not a playoff team. But at some point, I think teams have to look at their roster and say, "Is there any chance of this squad winning us a championship?" Phoenix did that after 06-07, and said, "Yeah." Then the season got started, they lost their faith in that idea, and did the trade-which-shall-not-be-named. But the difference is, there was reason to believe the Suns could win a championship with that core. The case for the Dubs was a lot harder, as exciting as they were. So Mullin and Co. decided to take a step back, look at their young talent, and re-evaluate. We've said it multiple times, but in order to do any rebuilding, you have to move your biggest asset. And while Mullin and Co. may not have wanted this to happen, it may not be the worst thing in the long run. Davis is notoriously a pain in the ass, and those last two weeks were punctuation marks on that reputation.

They now have more athletic wings than they know what to do with, and a competent guard. Could they use a point guard that can run a more efficient offense? Absolutely. But why get one this year, when they're only going to suffer under the "pop the clutch" offense of Don Nelson in what will probably be his final year? Why not wait till you have a new coach, and let him decide what point guard he wants to give the reins to? Then you can reconfigure the offense. This team isn't the "worst team in the NBA" as the panic button indicates over at GSOM, and it's got some room to grow. It's no longer a laughing stock.

Of course, if they manage to get Brand... I shutter at the very thought, both in fear and joy.
So the Sonics are gone. And the Internet is a flutter with outrage and scorn and woefull mourning.

I've been over this. And yesterday went over it again.

What really infuriates me on the pro-Seattle side of the aisle is how many of them say "Why not just move Memphis?" Because, that's completely fair. What, you have to have five good seasons to qualify as save-worthy? Or Charlotte? What if Okafor defies logic and goes Nova next year, and the Bobcats are actually good for five years? Is it okay to move them then? Especially when some of those teams have better attendance figures over the last five years than Seattle. The common response to the low attendance figures are that "No one's going to support a losing team after Bennett took over. Read that earlier piece I did on HP. They weren't going in the first place.

Look, this has nothing to do with the SOS movement. Those are great fans, who I'm sure have followed the team passionately and consistently. I would also bet that they encouraged their legislators to fund the new stadium and voted on the referendums when put to a public vote. But the rest of Seattle didn't. And what's worse, this is after they funded new football and baseball improvements! Some would say that the citizens of Seattle and Washington were hired of being held hostage by owners for new stadiums. Do you really, really believe that was what was going through the minds of the legislators and voters? No. It was "I don't want higher taxes." Period. And if you're not willing to pay higher taxes, you don't get privileges. It sucks, but that's how it is. I don't blame Seattle more than Bennett. Like I said at FanHouse, he's a blood sucking, lying, cheating jackass that's giving a good city a bad name with this mess. Oklahoma City has proven it can sustain an NBA team and support it by, you know, showing up for games. They're good sports fans, and they have nothing to do with this mess. Bennett is the bad guy here. But if Sonics fans want to be angry, here's the list.

1. Bennett.

2. Bennett.

3. The Government of the City of Seattle

4. The Washington State Legislature

5. The Voters of Seattle and Washington State

6. David Stern

If you know the guy is from Oklahoma, and you know he's going to try and screw you, why on earth would you present your backside to him? It's just common sense. Pay for the stadium, put pressure on him to sell the team, do what you have to to get your team to stay. Don't wait until after he puts the move in motion to cry foul.

Again, I'm not saying I'm not sympathetic to those that are dying today with this news. It's terrible, and it sucks. It's not the Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore, but that doesn't mean it's not really sad, and that I don't feel for those people. I just want blame to be distributed where it should go.

At some point, if you play chicken with a guy driving a tank, and he runs over you, is it his fault he ran over you? Yes. But is it your fault you didn't do what you needed to do in order to not get hit?

I'm just sayin'.
Okay, I know everyone will cry that there isn't enough talent to go around, but I don't think that's necessarily true, given the fact that the play quality is rising and the number of legitimate stars is at an all time high. So I want to propose this, which solves everyone's problems. A 2010/2011 four team expansion, giving each confernce 17 teams. Playoffs switch to top 16 teams with best records, conference winner can get no worse than the three seed. You add Seattle, Las Vegas, Kansas City, and Nashville. Seattle for obvious reasons, Las Vegas appeases Stern and gets him to rescind on his "Seattle gets no second chance" edict, Kansas City has a brand new arena with no tenant and is in a basketball strong region, and Nashville has proven it can support expansion teams in other sports (Predators) plus it solidifies the south eastern region.

I know the question of diluting the talent base comes into play, but with the D-League becoming better every day, a true minor league system in place will supply the talent necessary to support that kind of expansion. Seattle gets a team back, the Midwest has another team for people to make fun of, Stern gets Vegas and gets to rake in money hand over fist, and we get to see NBA players at the Grand Ole Opry.


Duhon to the Magic?

Third Quarter Collapse is sh*tting a brick over how much he hates it. Corn similarly thinks it's disastrous. I think it's fine. They need help in the backcourt, Nelson's shaky, if not an outright disaster at times. Duhon's a backup, it's not that much money, and the fact is that this team desperately needs two things, speed and a capable rebounder to support Big Beastly Jesus. And since they out and out refuse to address their power forward situation, at least they're getting a guy with some upside who's capable.
As often as possible, we'll try and present you with something to do during the horrendous offseason to tide you over till November.

Your Offseason Guide To Survival for Thursday, July 3rd, 2008:

Go Skydiving!

That's right. Why? Because as you jump from the plane and see the ground hurtling toward you, you'll feel just like a Warriors fan today.

But in all seriousness, skydiving is a lot like the Warriors offense. Your objective is to plummet at the highest incline possible, before deploying a beautiful canopy to ease you to your target safely. Fast break. Pass. Pass. Pass. Monta Ellis layup. FIN.

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