Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm At The Edge Of A New Frontier

YOU SHOULD CLICK HERE NOW.


Goodbye, Blogspot, and thanks for all the fish.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

I Am Blown Away.



A big thanks to Ryne, friend of the HP family, at SLAM.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

This Is Going To Be Kind Of An Insane Week

I'm just warning you now. Your HP world? About to be rocked. To the core.

But as a warmup, in place of the linkdumps, which are too long because there is too much NBA awesomeness on the blogosphere, I give you our link-driven Tumblr.

http://hardwoodparoxysm.tumblr.com

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Donnie Nelson Turns Nothing Into Something


I have some fond memories of the Mavs' 2006 run to the Finals, and there is no doubt that DeSagana Diop was an essential cog in that team. But when the two-headed center that the Mavs employed suddenly transformed into a one headed center tied to a head-shaped doorstop, things got ugly. So from Dallas' perspective, it makes perfect sense to ship Diop to Charlotte in exchange for Matt Carroll and contract filler Ryan Hollins.

Dirk and Brandon Bass both present considerable defensive problems when they're forced to defend the post. That's where Diop was supposed to add to this Mavericks team. Needless to say, that hasn't exactly been the case. Diop is one helluva soldier in regard to his unwillingness to act up or cause problems when faced with limited playing time, but unfortunately, that is where my compliments of Diop's season end. He's always been an offensive liability and it seemed like his D had finally caught up. He struggled to defend stronger foes and really has problems with the pick and roll. He doesn't have the foot speed to keep up with centers when they step out, and watching him try to guard a point guard on the switch is a bit like watching a cat chase his own tail. It's harsh, I know, but the time for niceties is long past for the Mavs. Now, it's about finding the right guys for Coach Carlisle's attack, and that directive is executed beautifully with the acquisition of Matt Carroll.

Dirk, Jason Terry, and Jason Kidd are excellent at opening up the corners for their teammates. Devean George (28.9%), James Singleton (14.3%), Gerald Green (29.4%), and Antoine Wright (25.6%)have gotten plenty of open looks from the corners. And plenty of those opportunities have ended up with a shot that makes me vomit in my mouth, ever so slightly. Green could get there, and damn do I want him to, but for the time being he's a sparkplug at best and a 'factory which has the sole purpose of manufacturing turnovers' at worst. The rest of the crew ain't bad (Well, except for Singleton. Sweet rebounder, but I wouldn't mind if I never saw him take another three.), but they're not good enough for a team that wants to shoot as often as the Mavs do. The idea is that with Carroll in the corners, the offense could really open up. He's having a down year that would make Larry Hughes blush, but he's also a career 40.3% shooter from deep -- nothing to scoff at.

The perk of this trade is that there is virtually no downside. Diop was playing marginal minutes anyway, and a combination of Bass and Singleton will likely fill in the gaps. But beyond that, I see two pretty big advantages for the Mavs:

  • Yes, Caroll is owed $21.5 million over the next five years. But that contract is also front-weighted, meaning that his $5 million salary for 2008-2009 is as high as it gets. In the heavily asterisked summer of 2010, Carroll will be on the books for just $4.3 mil. Not bad at all, especially when compared to Gana's $32 million deal over the same five years ($6.5 in 2010).
  • Suppose that Carroll throws up a brick fest during his time with the Mavs, continues his tear of 2008-2009 sucktitude, and becomes a complete waste of space. Carlisle has shown that he isn't shy about jerking around minutes, and he simply won't play Carroll if he doesn't deserve it. Be it in practice or in games, Matt Carroll is going to have to earn every minute he plays in a Maverick uniform.
Ryan Hollins is a non-factor that was likely included for salary/warm bodies that play the center position reasons.

To some extent, I do feel bad for the Bobcats. They can use the frontcourt depth, but since the summer I've felt like the trade game could turn into a hot potato game of Diop's contract, and my money says the music just cut out. Game over man, game over. Enjoy paying a back-up big enough money to cripple your free agent plans, guys.

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Two-Month-Old Fetus Officially Decreed to be NCAA 'Prospect'

WASHINGTON, D.C. (HP) -- After Thursday's controversial decision to extend 'prospect' status to seventh graders passed by virtue of an NCAA vote, the NCAA's follow-up vote on Friday also classified unborn fetuses with a minimum of two months of maturation as 'prospects.'

The decision was made to buck a trend in which some college coaches were intentionally spreading their seed and/or offering to foot the bill for the baby mama's expenses. "The fact that we've got to this point is really just a sign of the times." said Joe D'Antonio, chairman of the 31-member Division I Legislative Council. D'Antonio is certainly not alone in his views, but after numerous photo leaks that showed coaches holding and even kissing young infants, the council considered this a problem that needed to be nipped in the bud.

"It may seem harmless, but by speaking to the fetus through the mother's stomach or playing a school fight song while the unborn child rests, a coach can have considerable influence over an unsuspecting, captive audience," said a NCAA source that wished to remain anonymous.

Schools had also expressed concern that the elite pre-birth basketball skills camps and workshops were giving participating coaches a recruiting advantage, pressuring other coaches to conduct similar camps.

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REASONS TO WATCH THE GAMES OF THE NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION TONIGHT:

Yeah, and If Wishes Were Horses We'd All Be Eatin' Steak (New York at Washington):


I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller. I wish Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison could play well, together, for one fricking game. I wish Nate Robinson would be more consistent. I wish Andre Blatche would stop getting people's hopes up. I wish David Lee would make the All-Star team. I wish Gilbert would come back. I wish Jared Jeffries would move to Fiji. I wish Brendan Haywood wouldn't be so damn important to the Wiz. I wish for Wilson Chandler could amaze me every single night. Yeah.


Round 2...FIGHT! (San Antonio at Philadelphia):


The Sixers have rattled off five straight wins over some pretty solid teams (Houston, Atlanta, and Portland, especially), and are on what can only be described as a tear. Their last loss was to none other than tonight's opponent, a 2 point heartbreaker at the hand's of the world's lamest game winner...by the hands of a turnaround prayer from Tony Parker. Damn you, Spurs. Damn you. At five games older and five games wiser, Philly will do their best to pummel a SanAn team that's likely still running on the adrenaline from the thriller in L.A. We're all pulling for you in this one, Sixers. You got robbed last time and these things have a tendency to work themselves out (well, sometimes...), so I hope you feel good about your karma.


A Long Time Ago, We Used to Be Friends (Toronto at Indiana):



Does the T.J. Ford-Jermaine O'Neal returning home subplot even count if both players are injured? T.J.'s been in and out with his recurring back soreness and O'Neal's absence has been completely eclipsed by Bargnani finding new joy in absolutely demolishing whoever is guarding him. But without the trade intrigue, this is just another game between two teams that are better than their records. Shallow as they are, the Raps should be in the playoffs. And defenseless as they are at times, the Pacers are far from incapable at that end if they just buckled down. Each disappointing in the own right, and each boasting a superhuman talent at forward. Bosh, Granger, Granger, Bosh. Let's dance.


When a Team Gets Too Good, You've Gotta Handicap 'Em (New Orleans at Cleveland):

No Delonte West, which as I explained earlier, really, really sucks for the Cavs. Tonight should be our first look at how Cleveland performs without its "catalyst," with the only mitigating factor being the fact that LeBron will be hungry for the taste of human flesh. Posey is the best shot that the Hornets have at slowing him down, but I wouldn't count on him stopping James without that fanged Celtics D helping him out from all angles. Even WITH the best defense in the league on his back LeBron was superhuman, so if he's motivated (and a loss to the Bulls should do wonders in that department), he is capable of doing more than enough to get the win. Chris Paul is too good at basketball, to the point that what I thought was a "decent" effort to contain him in-game turned out to be a triple double. Redonkulous.


Expect the Expected (Utah at Memphis):

The Thunder gave the Jazz the business, but don't go 'spectin them there Jazzers to git punked twice. Ya hear? See, I'm allowed to do that, 'cause I'm from Texas. Y'all.

But I have a sneaking suspicion that bad Grizz show up tonight, the Jazz are angry, and things get ugly early. Jerry Sloan doesn't take kindly to getting embarassed, and unfortunately the cubs will be on the receiving end of that rage.


Something Like This (Detroit at OKC):



I love the Thunder. I really do. But I've got a bad feeling about this.


I've Been Saving Myself For You (Minnesota at Phoenix):


Let me get this straight: Shaq wanted to do the three games in four nights routine, so he skipped out on the game before the routine so that he could be active against the TIMBERWOLVES? Terry Porter must think the world of McHale. Or maybe this whole team has just gone bonkers. While Kenyon Martin and Nene through down dunk after dunk last night, do you get the feeling that having the big fella around might've helped out just a teensy bit? The jury's still out, I'm sure. I'm not sure what makes this game more important than last night's overtimer with the Nuggets, but I would absolutely love to hear that explanation. By all means, Terry. The Wolves are playing their best ball of the season, and they've been surprisingly competitive since Foye's full-time move to the off-guard, but I fail to see the logic here.


Two Teams, One Goal: To Prove Me Wrong (Milwaukee at Sacramento):

While Michael Redd and Kevin Martin were sitting in bacta tanks, I may or may not have said something along the lines of these two teams being the most boring to watch in the NBA. At the very least, they put up quite a fight for the honor. But with Martin back to his usual, hyper-efficient business and Michael Redd doing some quality work off the radar, the Bucks and the Kings seem ready to spread their wings and leave the Clippers among the dredges of entertainment value in the lig. For the sake of all Bucks and Kings fans out there, here's to hoping that they prove me wrong.


More Unanswered Questions Than an Episode of Lost (Atlanta at Golden State):


One can only hope that as opposed to Lost, whatever basketball deity is residing over these two teams' fates has SOME semblance of a plan for how their narratives are going to unfold. Go die, J.J. Abrams.

Atlanta is a team that truly perplexes me. They were ridiculous for awhile, then kind of pedestrian, then pretty terrible, now pretty good...where exactly is this team going to be come April? They're certainly good enough to get into the playoffs, but is this team still a bonafide match-up nightmare for the Celtics? I know Horford's out, but is this still a team to fear on the defensive end? Are they making anybody shake in their boots when Joe Johnson isn't managing batshit insane production?

And on the other end of the spectrum: what exactly need to be done to right the ship for the Warriors? Nelson out? Maggette out? Everyone else out? I don't know of a more muddled, confusing roster with so many potential possibilities for both brilliance and utter failure. These are the Warriors as we know them.


Hey There, Mister Blue, We're So Pleased to Be With You (Orlando at LAL):



If the last Magic-Lakers game sets the precedent for this one, we should be in for one hell of a game. The name of the game for the magic is deep post presence and decisive penetration. This won't be the open shooting drill the Magic faced in Sactown, and they're going to need to get inside early and often to open up that outside game. The Lakers aren't exactly the Kings, and they won't have to immediately double Dwight inside unless he unleashes hell. Jameer Nelson will meet a worthy adversary in Fish, and Courney Lee/Bogans/Redick will have their work cut out for them with Kobe. Can't wait for this one.

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