Turn On The Jets Stock Watch: Week 15 Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Stock Watch, buying and selling as the Jets head into week 15

Lots to get to in Jets Land as usual with just three games left to play, so let’s just jump right into this week’s Stock Watch.

BUY: Braylon Edwards Signing – I know lots of Jets beat writers and “expert” types rushed to their laptops and smart phones to make their very own Braylon jokes on Twitter as soon as news of the signing broke, but make no mistake about it: This was a GOOD signing. Here is a list of players that have lined up at wide receiver this season for the Jets (other than legitimate NFL options Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley): Stephen Hill, Chaz Schilens, Clyde Gates, Jason Hill, Mardy Gilyard, Jordan White and Antonio Cromartie. Seriously.

So my question to these “experts” is how is this in any way, shape, or form a bad move?  The Jets picked up a veteran receiver who has a rapport with their quarterback and a familiarity with the team, city, and locker room. If he isn’t healthy enough to contribute, then you cut him and lose nothing. If he plays bad, you cut him and lose nothing. If he says or does something stupid, then you cut him and lose nothing. More than likely though, you are getting a motivated player who knows he’s on his last chance and is going to give everything he has to this team and to this quarterback. And yes, I’m aware he called the general manager an idiot on Twitter in a moment of frustration, but so what, Mike Tannenbaum IS an idiot when it comes to building a roster. That being said..

BUY: Mike Tannenbaum – Yes, he’s done a horrible job with this offense and roster in general the past two years, but kudos to Mr. T for putting his pride to the side and doing what is clearly best for this team in signing a real NFL-caliber receiver for a change. Some people may say the organization is too soft on Sanchez and signing one of his favorite ex-receivers is another example of that, but I say it’s about time Tannenbaum threw Sanchez a bone and let him throw some passes to a player he’s comfortable with rather than needlessly dismantling the offense so they can sign 53-year-old Derrick Mason and fresh out-of-Oz, Plaxico Burress. Ehhh…

SELL: Mike Tannenbaum – Yeahhhh.. he still should probably be fired

BUY: Quinton Coples – I’ve been as big of a Coples supporter as there is out there, and I’ve been dying to see him get more playing time. (I’ve bought more stock of him in this column than I know what to do with.) This week we finally got to see him in action for extended time (although it still should have been more) and he did not disappoint. He only recorded 1 sack on the stat sheet, but he should have closed the deal on two others, and he was directly responsible for the game-ending interception as he got in Chad Henne’s face and forced a poor pass. The Quinton Coples break out is coming and he’s going to be a major force by the time 2013 rolls around. That reminds me..

SELL: Garrett McIntyre Getting So Many Snaps – There were times in the 4th quarter agains the Jaguars we saw two down linemen rushing the passer with blitzes coming from all over the place. Those two linemen were the tremendous Mo Wilkerson (who is having an All-Pro caliber season), and… Garrett McIntyre?! I know Calvin Pace is basically useless at this point in his career, so I understand him not being out there, but why not let Coples and Wilkerson feast on the Jags offensive line in those obvious passing situations?

SELL: All Corner Backs Not Named Cromartie – When Cro left the game and was headed to the locker room in the 4th quarter on Sunday, I thought this defense was toast. All of the corners on this team not named Cromartie are awful. Kyle Wilson has played a little better of late (and even stopped doing his ridiculous finger wag!), but he’s still no better than a solid 3rd corner. Ellis Lankster is a fine 3rd corner as well, as long as we’re talking about being a 3rd corner on some sort of low-grade independent football league out in the midwest or something. Aaron Berry has been hurt since the day he signed his contract with the Jets, which is unfortunate, because I was really hoping to see more of him out in the nickel spot this year.

BUY: 3-0 The Rest of the Way – The manta is “One Game at a Time” for the Jets, but I’m just a guy writing about them on the internet, so I’m allowed to look ahead. It is 100% conceivable that this team is going to go 3-0 the rest of the way with this schedule. The Titans are suffering from injuries to FOUR of their offensive linemen. Believe me, I was a Chris Johnson fantasy owner, I know how incredibly putrid this team is. It doesn’t help them that Mike Munchak looks more like a guy who should be driving a tow truck than being an NFL coach either. And speaking of comical head coaches, the Jets get to then close out the season against Norv Turner and Chan Gailey, who have both been updating their resumes for two solid months now in hopes of getting an offensive coordinator job in 2013. I don’t know if the Jets will get the necessary help to make the playoffs, but just that it’s possible is truly crazy.

BUY: Rex Ryan – That this team — with this talent — has a chance to go 9-7 really speaks to how good of a coach Rex Ryan is. I’m really tired of hearing people rip this guy and saying they want him fired. Just remember: The grass is not always greener on the other side. We have a good thing here with Rex Ryan. Just imagine how much better it can be once someone comes in here who can evaluate talent and give him the necessary pieces to become a dominant team again.

TOK – New York Knicks Through 20

A look at the New York Knicks through 20 games of the regular season

In the coming months we are going to be starting up “Turn On The Knicks” – Job descriptions for writing positions will be released in January along with our new openings for Turn On The Jets. However, I will be contributing to both sites as will Chris Celletti, who does terrific Knicks work over at SB Nation as well. Outside of Twitter commentary, we want to keep our pulse on what has been a thrilling Knicks season so far. Hence, every 10 games moving forward we will review what we have seen and what we think moving forward 

Current Record: 15-5, first place in Atlantic Division, first place in Eastern Conference

Most Impressive Win: How can you top winning in Miami by 20 points without Carmelo Anthony? The early season comeback win in San Antonio is a close second. Yet what might even be more impressive is how the Knicks have routinely blown out their inferior competition. There have been no let-down losses against the Detroits and Orlandos of the world.

Worst Loss: The only one that stands out as a truly brutal one was the beating they took in Houston by 28 points. Obviously the overtime loss in Brooklyn stung a little bit from a bragging rights perspective but it isn’t like the Knicks laid a complete egg that night.

Best Player: Of course this has to be Carmelo Anthony, who is right in the middle of the MVP discussion. Anthony is averaging 26.8 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.0 assists per night while shooting 43% from downtown. More importantly, there is a greater all around urgency to his game, particularly on the defensive end. He seems to be finally fully embracing every aspect of being both a team’s leader…and their leading scorer.

Most Pleasant Surprises: Despite being more of his usual sporadic self as of late. JR Smith remains a viable 6th Man of the Year Candidate with 13.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists and strong defense off the bench. Smith has been more reliable than expected and of course had that gem of a game winner in Charlotte. Tyson Chandler’s offense (over 70% from the field!) has been a huge boost and the amount of quality minutes from Rasheed Wallace has helped tremendously on the defensive end.

Biggest X-Factor: Stats don’t do justice to what Jason Kidd has brought to the Knicks backcourt. He is a knockdown three point shooter (50% from behind the arc), facilitates the offense and is averaging nearly 2 steals per game. His ability to comfortably play two-guard has been enormous in settling down the Knicks rotation.

Other Mentions: The next time somebody says “Man, the Knicks really miss Jeremy Lin” will be the first. Raymond Felton has been solid from day one as the starting point guard. For the record, he is outperforming Lin in every major statistical category.

Biggest Disappointment: Marcus Camby has been unable to stay healthy and when he has been out there, hasn’t been able to contribute much. Considering that Chris Copeland has handled his limited minutes well and that Amare Stoudemire will be back soon enough, it is hard to see him making much of an impact at all this year.

State of the Union: Could you have really asked for a better start? The Knicks have the best record in the Eastern Conference, remain undefeated at home and have blown out the Miami Heat twice. Despite their often joked about advanced edge, they have shown tremendous depth, energy and outside shooting. Can they sustain this 60 win pace? It is hard to expect that but they are firmly in the mix for a #2 seed in the conference and the current favorite for an Atlantic Division title.

What is even more exciting is that both Amare Stoudemire and Iman Shumpert will be returning in the coming month or so from their respective injuries. Stoudemire has publicly claimed he is comfortable coming off the bench and he better be because that is where the Knicks need him. He should be able to provide a down low scoring punch off the bench and step in to take the offensive lead on nights when the 3 pointers aren’t falling or Anthony isn’t shooting well. Shumpert is a terrific on-ball defender who will likely take Ronnie Brewer’s (who has been very good) place in the starting line-up, allowing him to become part of the second line with Amare.

The Knicks have ten games throughout the rest of December and have a real chance to put some distance between themselves Brooklyn and Boston (currently 3.5 and 4 games back respectively). There are some fun ones coming up starting tonight in BK. After that Mike D’Antoni and the Lakers come to MSG on Thursday, Lin-Sanity is in the building this Monday and then Brooklyn plays their first ever game here next Wednesday.

Recommend Knicks Reads

 

Turn On The Jets 2012-2013 NBA Predictions

The TOJ staff gives their NBA picks for the 2012-2013 season

We love our New York Jets here at Turn On The Jets (shocking, I know) but that doesn’t mean we don’t talk about other sports from time to time…particularly the NBA. Here are our staff picks for the upcoming season, supplemented by a few guests. Feel free to leave your picks in the comments section –

Joe Caporoso

Eastern Conference

  1. Miami Heat
  2. Boston Celtics
  3. Indiana Pacers
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. New York Knicks
  6. Brooklyn Nets
  7. Chicago Bulls
  8. Toronto Raptors

Western Conference

  1. Los Angeles Lakers
  2. San Antonio Spurts
  3. Oklahoma City Thunder
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Denver Nuggets
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. Utah Jazz
  8. Dallas Mavericks

Finals – Lakers over Heat

Awards – Rajon Rondo (MVP), Anthony Davis (ROY), Ray Allen (6th Man)

Moke Hamilton

Eastern Conference

  1. Heat
  2. Celtics
  3. Pacers
  4. Knicks
  5. Sixers
  6. Nets
  7. Hawks
  8. Bulls

Western Conference

  1. Lakers
  2. Thunder
  3. Spurs
  4. Clippers
  5. Nuggets
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Trailblazers
  8. Mavericks

Finals – Lakers over Heat

Awards – Chris Paul (MVP), Anthony Davis (ROY), Wilson Chandler (6th Man)

Chris Gross

Eastern Conference 

  1. Heat
  2. Celtics
  3. 76ers
  4. Bulls
  5. Knicks
  6. Nets
  7. Hawks
  8. Pacers
Western Conference
  1. Lakers
  2. Thunder
  3. Nuggets
  4. Spurs
  5. Clippers
  6. Rockets
  7. Mavericks
  8. Timberwolves

Finals – Lakers over Heat

Awards – LeBron James (MVP), Anthony Davis (ROY), Ray Allen (6th Man)

Matt Oliveira

Eastern Conference
  1. Miami
  2. Boston
  3. Indiana
  4. Brooklyn
  5. Philadelphia
  6. New York
  7. Chicago
  8. Atlanta
Western Conference 
  1. Thunder
  2. Lakers
  3. Spurs
  4. Denver
  5. Clippers
  6. Memphis
  7. Utah
  8. Minnesota

Finals – Lakers over Celtics

Awards – Kevin Durant (MVP), Damon Lilliard (ROY), Jamal Crawford (6th Man)

Dan Donohue

Eastern Conference 

  1. Miami
  2. Boston
  3. Nets
  4. 76ers
  5. Pacers
  6. Knicks
  7. Bulls
  8. Bucks
Western Conference 
  1. Lakers
  2. Thunder
  3. Spurs
  4. Nuggets
  5. Clippers
  6. Grizzlies
  7. Warriors
  8. Wolves

Finals – Lakers over Heat

Awards – LeBron James (MVP), Anthony Davis (ROY), MarShon Brooks (6th Man)

Sean Santagato

Eastern Conference
  1. Miami Heat
  2. Indiana Pacers
  3. Boston Celtics
  4. New York Knicks
  5. Chicago Bulls
  6. Brooklyn Nets
  7. Philadelphia 76ers
  8. Milwaukee Bucks

Western Conference

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. Los Angeles Clippers
  6. Memphis Grizzlies
  7. Utah Jazz
  8. Minnesota Timberwolves

Finals – Heat over Lakers

Awards – LeBron James (MVP), Anthony Davis (ROY), Jamal Crawford (6th Man)

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch 7/17 – Jets Hype And NBA Edition

TOJ’s weekly Stock Watch looks at the negativity surrounding the Jets heading into the season and recent NBA headlines

Welcome back to TOJ’s Weekly Stock Watch by Mike Donnelly…make sure to give Mike a follow on Twitter here and give Turn On The Jets a follow on Facebook here – 

With this being a bit of a dead period in the NFL, this week’s Stock Watch is going to focus mainly on the NBA offseason, but there are two Jets related Buys and Sells I’d like to start the column off with:

SELL: This article on TheJetsBlog.com – I’d like to thank the dozen or so people who pointed this out to me. Now, full disclosure here: I’m a big fan of that site and read it pretty regularly. I’m also fully aware that there are very few original ideas left out there when it comes to blogging or sports writing, but this is quite a coincidence here, isn’t it? I mean right down to the intro:

In my very first Stock Watch in which I bought and sold Jets players, I wrote this: “That got me thinking. What if we could buy and sell players and teams the way we do stocks?” before getting into the under and over valued player stocks I’d invest in.

In this TJB article? Slightly different: “If you woke up this morning thinking Football players are a helluva lot like publicly-traded stocks, you’re right!  Obviously.”, before getting into the buys and sells.

You can check the whole thing out yourself and let me know what you think, as it’s still a pretty good read. I mean after all, it was good when it was posted here on TurnOnTheJets.com two months ago, so why wouldn’t it still be good now, right? Ok, perhaps that was taking it too far with the self-praise. That ends the “patting myself on the back” portion of today’s column. Let’s move on.

BUY: All the Anti-Jets Sentiment out there – I’m not buying this nonsense because I agree with it or think that the Evan Silvas of the world are right; I’m buying this because I think it’s exactly what this Jets team needs to hear. Back when this team was at it’s best it was when they were the underdog facing uphill battles. They were the only ones who believed they could march through the playoffs and pull off upsets week after week. They need to get back to that “Us vs. the World” mentality and rally around each other. The media and football fans everywhere are just lining up waiting for the Jets to fail so they can mercilessly rag on them. I don’t think it’s going to happen.

(If you’re not an NBA fan or just came here for the Jets content, then this is where we should probably part ways for today. You’ve been warned.)

SELL: Kobe Bryant saying the 2012 Olympic team could beat the Dream Team – I want to just fill up this whole paragraph with “HA HA HA’s” but I’ll refrain from doing so. The notion that this team with Tyson Chandler as their only center could beat the famed 1992 Dream Team is so ridiculous on so many levels, that I don’t even know where to begin. We could start with the Tyson Chandler and Kevin Love vs. Hall of Famers Patrick Ewing and David Robinson in the post; Or maybe we can mention that the ’12 team would have no answer for Charles Barkley and Karl Malone; Maybe we can start by saying this year’s team nearly lost to BRAZIL last night and were actually down by double digits at one point. All would be great starting points in picking apart Kobe’s statements, but I choose this one: They had MICHAEL FREAKIN’ JORDAN. Sorry Kobe, you’re no Michael, and your team would learn a painful lesson in that fantasy matchup.

BUY: The Dream Teamers responses to Kobe – The way members of the Dream Team came out to basically laugh in Kobe’s face through the media over his comments was downright hilarious. From Magic Johnson taking to Twitter to Michael Jordan literally laughing out loud and basically calling Kobe an idiot while playing golf and smoking a cigar (Is there anybody cooler than Michael Jordan?), it was all very awesome, and I’d expect nothing less. Especially since they were all right. My favorite response, though, came from Scott Pippen, who was guest commentating during a USA team game the other day and casually started they’d win by at least 25 points in a head-to-head matchup.

BUY: The Knicks Bench Moves – I know a lot of people were down on adding two veterans pushing 40, but the Knicks picking up Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby, while retaining Steve Novak and JR Smith were pretty excellent moves for a team that lacked depth big time last year. When Iman Shumpert comes back from his knee injury during the season, this team is going to be very deep and potentially explosive. It’s easy to forget how great they were playing down the stretch last year before being wiped out by the Heat in the playoffs, but this team can absolutely make some noise next year.

SELL: Jason Kidd getting a DUI already – And then Jason Kidd goes and does something like this that makes you question bringing him into the fold. If the reports from TMZ.com are true that he had to be carried to his car after leaving the party he was at, it makes him an even bigger idiot. These guys really can’t just call a taxi? Really?

BUY: Carmelo Anthony’s comments on Jeremy Lin’s contract – I’ve seen a lot of fans and media talking heads jumping on Carmelo for saying Lin’s offer sheet was ridiculous… and I just don’t get it. It WAS ridiculous for the Rockets to offer him that much and it WOULD be ridiculous for the Knicks to match it with the luxury tax implications hanging over their heads. I agree with Carmelo, and JR Smith’s comments about Lin’s contract causing a problem in the locker room were very telling. It’s time for Linsanity to move on.

SELL: Linsanity – With Mike D’Antoni gone, there was a good chance “Linsanity” as we knew it was over anyway, but with his move to Houston, we will all forget his name soon enough. He can still be a good quality NBA point guard, but all the publicity and hoopla are finished. By 2014, Jeremy Lin will be a good punch line to many jokes, and I’m sure the “30 for 30: Linsanity” on ESPN will be cool to watch in five years.

NBA Finals Preview: Why We Love Sports

Turn On The Jets previews the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder

The NBA Playoffs have been great theater in both conferences. Ultimately, we have ended up with the match-up most people both predicted and wanted: the Miami Heat versus the Oklahoma City Thunder.

How couldn’t you want it? A team built the “right” way around a big three of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden versus the team built the “wrong” way around a big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. A superstar small forward everybody loves in Durant against a superstar small forward everybody loves to hate in James. Arguably the weakest fan base and home court advantage in Miami (unless you count white t-shirts as fans) against the most electric home crowd in the NBA right in Oklahoma City.

Are the Thunder too young? Their big three are all under 25. None of them have been to the NBA Finals. Yet, they have Finals tested supporting pieces in Derek Fisher and Kendrick Perkins. Miami was here last year with all the same key parts returning. Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem already have a Championship under their belt for the Heat.

The focus will inevitably be on LeBron James and Kevin Durant, battling for alpha-dog status in the league. If LeBron isn’t going to get a title now, when is it going to happen? How are the Heat’s big three going to win 6…7…8 championships if there is a younger big three who has already bested then on the NBA’s biggest stage? We all love Durant and how he plays the game but make no mistake, James is the best player in this series. If he plays like he did in Game 6 of the Boston series, Miami will be bringing the trophy back to South Beach.

Of course that is always the question about James. How often will he really bring it? A timid, passive and scared of the moment James is going to equal an ugly series for the Heat. Oklahoma City is too athletic and too deep. They have an advantage at point guard. They have a better bench. They don’t have players like Ronny Turiaf and a beaten down Shane Battier playing key roles for them. They have a sizable home court advantage that Miami lacks.

Dwyane Wade isn’t carrying Miami to this title. Chris Bosh can hit all the mid-range jumpers he wants. This is about LeBron rising above the challenge of Durant or falling short to a player who just might resemble Dirk Nowitzki in these NBA Finals.

Two superstars vying to start a legacy of championships. A Hall of Fame two guard looking to add another title to his resume. The most athletic guard in the NBA looking to show he isn’t the headcase who will prevent his team from becoming a dynasty. The best beard in sports. Great theater. Great basketball. Let’s enjoy the ride.

NBA Playoffs: Beards, Rings and Old Legs

Justin Fritze breaks down what we have learned so far in the NBA Conference Finals

Justin Fritze breaks down what we have learned so far in the NBA Conference Finals. Who are you Knicks fans pulling for out there? Personally, the wave of tears in Boston has led me to hope Miami beats them but is then promptly disposed of by the Spurs in 5 games. – JC 

THE WEST: EQUAL AND OPPOSITE

Was I, a diehard Thunder fan, nervous about going 0-2 to the Spurs with the potential of going down 0-3 last night? No. I was already resigned. Yes I know it’s sacrilege, but every person watching the two games in San Antonio could do nothing but marvel at the efficiency and ease that the Spurs displayed with their old school offense.

If you’re going to lose, you better lose to the best. You better not get outworked or outhustled, but getting outsmarted by a team with 4 rings in the past 10 years (and quite possibly the second or first (if you factor in the Jordan/Kobe thing) greatest coach in NBA history) is nothing to be scoffed at. Yeah, Dirk got them with an inhuman playoff performance last year, but this year was different. It was the sum of the parts working at 110% efficiency.

It was with that in my mind that I sat, stone sober, in front of my television and watched the Thunder quite literally dismantle that machine, piece by piece, and use their transition offense to beat on the Spurs. Case in point? Kevin Durant skying over Tim Duncan with an alley oop as Duncan decides not to even attempt a block. For that night, for that fanbase, the Thunder decided that they weren’t going to go quietly, and a single question stood out in my mind. Were the Spurs, with 19 straight playoff wins, getting tired?

My hope? Yes. The Thunder are going to use their momentum (and the fact that they are undefeated at home in the 2012 playoffs) to turn game 4 into a track meet. Will it work? Who knows. I’m a fan of the team, so trying to get any sort of unbiased opinion out of me on this series is going to be as useless as getting “elpresidente” to give a level headed assessment of Game 2 of the Boston/Miami series.

Why am I a Thunder fan? I’ve been trying to come up with reasons beside the obvious: the relative anonymity by which the team as a whole carries itself, the young coach, the city still trying to deal with its scars, the 22 year old shooting guard coming off the bench, the 22 year old power forward, the 23 year old point guard, the 23 year old small forward….etc.

The Thunder, simply put, are the Anti-Heat. No Armani GM, no collusion in their “Big 3”, no ring proclamations, no star treatment. Enough gushing. Let’s talk after Saturday night.

THE EAST: THE END OF THE ROAD

I’m here to give great pity, great condolence, and great admiration to the Boston Celtics. Why? Because I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and most of my family still resides in the New England area. Because my grandpa has hats for every Celtics championship, because there is just something different about coming from New England. People there never get much credit, and most of the industries in Connecticut and Massachusetts have all but dried up. Textile mills, steel mills, paper mills, all but gone. Go read Kerouac, and look at modern day Lowell. It’s a testament to a time gone by.

That’s what I see with the Celtics. Old men exchanging stories about the good old days. Ray Allen trying to play on two bad ankles, Paul Pierce getting absolutely 0 calls, Rajon Rondo trying to carry the load of not just the Celtics team of 2012, but all the ghosts of Celtics past. Those banners carry weight, and Rajon Rondo tried to do everything short of fly around the court to get the Celtics a win. He may be completely insane, but Rajon Rondo has the heart of 10 Lebrons.
Despite the incessant banshee screams of Bill Simmons, the Celtics are not going to win this series. This is the end of the road, and if I can pick a favorite moment of this Celtics squad, it was the crippling of Kobe’s dynasty with a title and a 30 point blowout a few years back. Kevin Garnett, Paul Piece, Ray Allen, thanks for the memories.

As a last thought, imagine if Jeff Green was healthy this year.

NBA Draft Lottery: Winners, Losers, and Billy King

Mike Donnelly breaks down the winners and losers from last night’s NBA Draft Lottery and ponders how Billy King still finds work

Mike Donnelly looks at the winners and losers from last night’s NBA Draft Lottery. By the way, while we are discussing the NBA, save your river of tears about officiating Boston fans. Let’s not act like your stars have never received the benefit of a quick whistle. You are going to get swept because you are vastly inferior to Miami on the court not because of the referees. – JC

Winners

New Orleans Hornets – Obviously. They had the lottery rigged for them defied the odds, and improbably landed the #1 overall pick, and with it, the chance to draft Anthony Davis. They already have a few pieces in place, with Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Chris Kaman, and Trevor Ariza, so adding Davis will speed up the rebuilding process. They won’t be competing for a title any time soon, but now they have something to build on, which is something they couldn’t really say after David Stern screwed them with the whole Chris Paul fiasco last year.

Anthony Davis – Davis knew all along he would be the #1 overall pick, so his stock didn’t go up or down last night. The reason he came out as a winner was because he doesn’t have to go play in Charlotte for that abysmal Bobcats team. I mean have you seen that roster? It would be a shame to see him waste away there. He’s much better off in New Orleans, especially if David Stern is going to continue rigging things for them to succeed. Err–I mean, especially since he has a better supporting cast. Yeah, that’s it.

Conspiracy Theorists – What a day for NBA Conspiracy Theorists everywhere! 27 years after David Stern allegedly rigged the 1985 Lottery so the Knicks could land Patrick Ewing, something even more fishy occurred last night. After absolutely screwing the Hornets last year with the Chris Paul situation, and after a solid year of Tom Benson low-balling him with offers to buy his team that nobody wanted, David Stern somehow magically convinced Benson to up his offer and meet the asking price just a few weeks before the draft. Hmm. And then, despite having the 4th best chance to land the #1 pick, the Hornets and Tom Benson–I hope you’re sitting down for this one–land the #1 pick! Shocking!

So to recap: David Stern owned this team for a year, single-handily set them back a few years with the Chris Paul thing (and owed them one as a result), and somehow sweetened the pot for Tom Benson to pull the trigger on the purchase. Was the #1 pick that sweetener? We’ll never know…

(Yes, yes it was)

Losers

The Brooklyn Nets – Oof, what a disaster. Due to a stunningly bad trade last year (we’ll get to this later), the Nets needed to land in the top 3 of the lottery last night or else lose their 1st round pick to the Portland Trail Blazers. They pulled #6. Ouch. So now, the Nets have basically nothing to trade for Dwight Howard and are almost definitely going to lose Deron Williams to free agency. I’m sure people will be lining up to watch Jordan Farmar and Gerald Green go 20-62 next season in their brand-new stadium…

Michael Jordan – Poor Michael will now actually have to do a little work now that his Bobcats landed the #2 pick instead of the slam-dunk choice of Anthony Davis at #1. If GM Rich Cho can track him down on the golf course or casino, or wherever Michael spends his time these days, the choice will likely come down to unpolished UConn center Andre Drummond or Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who may be the next Scottie Pippen. It’s almost a guarantee they’ll make the wrong choice and take Drummond, and that’s why they’re the Bobcats.

Billy King (Couldn’t think of a category name worse than “Loser”, so we’re gonna just name this the Billy King group)

Billy King – Seeing Billy King continue to get high-level jobs in the NBA blows my mind. Are there zero other qualified candidates out there that teams feel the need to recycle proven failures like Billy King? Is it his fault the ping-pong balls didn’t fall the Nets’ way and they didn’t land a top 3 pick? No. Is it his fault they made one of the most indefensible trades in recent NBA history putting them in a position that they needed a top 3 pick? Yes! Including a 1st round pick that was only Top-3 protected in a trade for a soon-to-be-30-year-old free agent Gerald Wallace, when the Blazers were supposedly only asking for a mid-to-late 1st round pick in return is completely and totally asinine. And his logic defending the trade–that they only liked 3 players in this draft so they didn’t mind losing the pick if it was after that–only shows him to be even more incompetent. Newsflash, Billy: Just because you don’t think a pick from #4 on is valuable, doesn’t mean other teams don’t. In fact, just knowing you thought that would make me jump through hoops trying to land a pick after #3 in this draft if I were an opposing GM.

It’s mind-boggling he even got this job with the Nets in the first place after his comical performance running the 76ers. Let’s take a look at some of his greatest hits:

  • Signing Theo Ratliff and Matt Geiger for a combined $108 million in 1999
  • Trading 1st round picks on multiple occasions for: Mirsad Turkcan, Jumaine Jones, and Kenny Thomas (so there is a precedent here for him making indefensible trades of 1st round picks)
  • Signing 35-year-old (but probably older in actuality) Dikembe Mutombo and Aaron McKie for a combined $117 million in 2001
  • Gave Samuel Dalembert and someone named Brian Skinner a combined $85 million
  • Inexplicably traded for a declining and injured Chris Webber in 2005, crippling their salary cap. Less than two years later, Billy King negotiated a $25 million buyout, basically paying Webber NOT to play for his team. Savvy!
  • Traded franchise player Allen Iverson for Andre Miller, Joe Smith, and 2 late 1st round picks that he used to select Daequan cook and Petteri Koponen. Nice!

It appears as though Billy King learned absolutely nothing from his tenure in Philadelphia and is intent on flushing the Nets down the toilet as well. They’re likely to lose Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace is a free agent (don’t think for a second Billy King isn’t about to overpay him big time to justify the trade, though), and they have no other real assets. When asked after the lottery if he would re-do the Wallace trade knowing he would lose his 1st round pick, he stunningly replied, “Absolutely”.

I’d agree with him, if only the question instead was: “Should you be fired?”

NBA Playoffs: Why Clippers vs. Spurs Will Be Great

Justin Fritze on why Spurs/Clippers will be a better series than people expect

Lakers/Thunder. Good matchup. Revenge. Kobe. Durant. Fisher. Got it.

Spurs/Clippers? Seriously? Kings/Clippers/Lakers all having playoff games in the same building for potentially two weeks? The potential of a LA vs. LA Western conference final? People in that climate don’t deserve that type of confusing joy, which is why it won’t happen.

The Spurs. All that is calm, cool and collected. The Clippers. All that is angry (Chris Paul), small (Chris Paul again), big (anyone seen a lost DeAndre Jordan?), floppy (Blake/Paul), swaggy (@NickSwagyPYoung) and poorly coached.
Is there anything more oppositely constructed headed for a sweep in one of two ways? Can you imagine the Spurs using the naivete of the Clippers against them and constructing plays to get an extra pass to the perimeter while Tim Duncan grinds Blake Griffin down to a pulp “old man style” and getting 10 guys in double figures? Can you imagine Chris Paul running the break with Nick Young who starts the “Mo Young” tandem with Lebron’s old sidekick and shooting the lights out while Reggie Evans goes berserk to get 18 rebounds?

As an unabashed Thunder fan, I hope this thing goes 7, with overtime required in games 5,6 and 7. That’s just me. For basketball fans, we can look at three things that will determine the outcome of the series.

The coach. Pop owns Vinny. Don’t try and debate it. Don’t go to wikipedia. Don’t defend Vinny, he’s a clown amongst clowns. Remember the Del Negro Bulls? Neither does America.

The point guard. Gotta give the edge to little man of the year, Chris Paul. But it’s close. If Chris Paul is a 10, Tony Parker is a 9.5

The power forward. The recipient of inside feeds, rebounder of missed 3’s. Tim Duncan, at 55 years old and as Dylan once sang “but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now” is looking like a man making dinner for his very successful wife, pausing for a moment to reflect on what to add to his garden salad, and realizing it all in a manner of 10 seconds without so much as a frown. He’s Tim Duncan. Flustered/Determined/Excited do not exist in his dictionary.

Blake Griffin, robot to the core, is looking like he wants to dunk on someone and proceed to melt him with his eyes. He can’t shoot, he can’t make free throws, but he can leap. He’s going to need to leap quite a bit if he’s trying to keep up with the scoring of the Spurs.

I still give the edge to Duncan, only because he’s seen everything in his 120,000 playoff games and can piss off Griffin to the point where he starts forcing things and get into foul trouble early.

To the final point, are the perimeter shooters of the Clippers consistent enough to make 3’s in clutch moments or create their own shot? Are the Spurs so team oriented that they will end up relying on guys that are not the “right guys” (Ginobili/Parker/Duncan), backfiring when Paul/Griffin/Young start heating up?

I’m taking Spurs in 6, but wouldn’t put it past the Clippers to take this in 5 if they fire Vinny and hire Mike D’Antoni ASAP.

Survival Mode: The Mess That Is The Eastern Conference Playoffs

Justin breaks down the messy Eastern Conference Playoffs

A brief review of the first round series before we get into the real matchups:

Bulls vs. Sixers – When you lose Derrick Rose to a torn ACL, a few things begin to cross your mind. You lost your floor general, but luckily you still have guys like Rip Hamilton, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer to help make up for the loss. When you lose Joakim Noah (the undisputed heart and soul of the Bulls), things start to get real shaky. Rip Hamilton having to create one on one? Carlos Boozer having to take some sort of leadership role? Not good. Not good at all.

There’s a reason the Sixers won this in 6, and it has much less to do with the Sixers talent than it does to do with the downfall of the Rose legacy. Now I’m not going to write off the Bulls for good…but something metaphysical died when Rose went down with a torn ACL. For a guy who literally lives off planting (sometimes very awkwardly) and driving to the basket, a torn ACL is like a voice in your head that whispers all your fears every time you try to do something highlight worthy. Quite literally, Rose is never going to be the same. Did I think they could win the East at full health? I’d give them a 50/50 shot with Miami, but can they win it next year? I have my doubts. Especially if “that’s all that matters, yo” Carlos Boozer is still here. Amnesty please.

Magic vs. Pacers – No Dwight Howard = No Chance. It wasn’t even close, despite the efforts of Glen Davis, the Richardsons and Ryan Anderson. This entire team has been predicated on the notion of getting the ball to Dwight Howard in the low post, so when he’s gone there’s really no point in attempting a breakdown of how the Magic can adapt their style to suit their sharpshooters. As Dwight Howard does his rehab, the Magic are reportedly giving him the cold shoulder. This team will look nothing like it has in the past, and Howard is most likely gone before the next Magic training camp.

As for the Pacers, they seem to be the more experienced version of the Sixers. Danny Granger stepped it up in the playoffs, as did Roy Hibbert and my favorite UNC alum PSYCHO T. We will discuss them more in the next round preview.

Hawks vs. Celtics – You had them Atlanta! You had them and it all fell apart. Well, that and you have Joe Johnson and Josh “no all star appearances” Smith as the pillars of your franchise. Game 4? Yeah only down by 25, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce looking 10 years younger. Al Horford coming up huge in game 5. Then the owner called Kevin Garnett the dirtiest player in the league and the floodgates hath open. So what’s the upside for Atlanta fans? Your team is still pretty nice in 2K12.

Knicks vs. Heat – The Knicks recent postseason accomplishments make the Jets look like a perennial powerhouse. So let’s just do a quick review of the Knicks second half of the season leading to the postseason. D’Antoni exits, Baron’s back flares up, Landry Fields regresses, Shumpert goes down with a torn ACL in game 1, Amare slices his hand punching the glass case of a fire extinguisher after game 3, Baron’s knee and ACL tear in Game 4, topping it all off with Carmelo reverting to his one man show, getting no one else involved in game 5,ending the series at 4-1 in favor of Miami. It’s going to be a long offseason in New York, and the excuses will come fast and furious.

With all that said, let’s move onto the real excitement of the playoffs…the semifinals –

Boston vs. Philly – There’s an ideological battle that is going to be waged in this series. Do you hang on to aging veterans or piece together a team of young 20 somethings, hoping for a few breaks as you try and use speed to get your way through tough playoff games. The only issue? Boston is feeling like 2008 again and the 76ers have no answer for the combination of Rondo and Ray Allen. Do I see 76ers giving them a tough run at home? Sure, but Boston is coming in rested and full of confidence, especially after they proved that they can absolutely demolish teams like the Hawks at 90% strength. Celtics in 6.

Heat vs. Pacers – I would personally enjoy nothing more than the Pacers taking this 7 games off the pure effort of Roy Hibbert and PSYCHO T, but I can’t help but realize the Heat haven’t even had a real challenge yet and got to mostly coast through the Knicks series (which could at some point work against them into a false sense of confidence). The Heat are going to win this series, it’s just a matter of how long it’s going to take them. Heat in 6.

Now, there is something amazing brewing in the East. It’s the heart and soul of the blue collar heroes against the flash of the Heat. Big 3 vs. Big 3. Short of OKC winning the West, nothing would give me as much joy as seeing Boston win the East. Celtics/Spurs finals? OKC/Heat finals? Or…Lakers/Celtics re-rematch? This is why the playoffs are great.

New York Knicks First Round Preview: Rise Up

A first round preview of Knicks/Heat and the rest of the NBA first round match-ups

After all the ups and downs of the roller coaster regular season for the New York Knicks, they finished with a respectable 36-30 regular season record. Unfortunately it was only good enough for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference and has set them up with a match-up with the Miami Heat in round one, where they find themselves substantial underdogs. Can the Knicks shock the world and send the league’s most hated team packing home early?

The answer is probably not. The safe money in this series is the Heat in 5 or 6. I think the Knicks take it to 6 games but will ultimately fall short 4-2. How can they prove me wrong?

The Knicks must split with Miami in the first two games to create some type of pressure on the Heat when game 3 arrives at Madison Square Garden. Miami has no home court advantage. Their stands will be filled with fair weather fans, Knicks fans and white shirts covering empty chairs while people are arriving late and leaving early. Madison Square Garden is going to be a madhouse. The Knicks are a different team at home and should be able to at least split in games 3 and 4. The longer this series goes, the more pressure is on the Dream Team who is led by a player who isn’t known for his exploits in pressure situations.

Now is Carmelo Anthony’s moment. He has been playing as well as, if not better than any player in the NBA the past month. He needs to match LeBron James shot for shot and go beyond him in the 4th quarter. Yet even that won’t be enough for the Knicks, as they will need their supporting cast led by Amare Stoudemire to have enough firepower to match Dwayne Wade and to a lesser extent Chris Bosh.

Beyond that, it is on Tyson Chandler to dominate the paint with Miami running out a Ronny Turiaf and Joel Anthony combination at center. Iman Shumpert to D up Dwyane Wade like he did Derrick Rose a few weeks back and the JR Smith/Steve Novak combination to outscore Miami’s questionable bench.

Miami brings a defensive intensity matched by few, if any teams in the league and the Knicks have major issues at point guard and finding consistent secondary scoring options to Anthony. Can Stoudemire give them 18-22 points a night? Can JR Smith find any type of consistency? Will Iman Shumpert hit his open threes? These are the questions that will determine if this series will be a long one or a laugher.

The rest of my first round picks –

Chicago over Philadelphia in 5 – The Sixers have been a disaster the second half of the season. Chicago has been the East’s best team from start to finish and will use Evan Turner’s foolish words about wanting them in round one as fuel. The Sixers don’t have a single reliable scorer who can get them points in a big spot. That isn’t going to cut it against Chicago’s D.

Indiana over Orlando in 6 – The Magic have been a circus all year. Some think they rally around Dwight Howard quitting on them and make a bit of a “Ewing Theory” run. They might steal a game or two here but that’s it.

Boston over Atlanta in 6 – This will be a tighter series than many expect. The Hawks are confident against Boston and have athleticism that will be tough for them to deal with but in the end, the old heads are a safe bet.

San Antonio over Utah in 6 – Utah is feisty and will be tough to beat in their building yet Greg Popovich’s unbelievable coaching job will continue into the second round. The Spurs are too good to lose in the first round in back to back years.

Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7 – Awesome first round series. The champs will put up a hell of a fight but they simply aren’t on Oklahoma City’s level.

Memphis over Los Angeles Clippers in 6 – I love Memphis as a NBA Finals darkhorse.

Los Angeles Lakers over Denver  in 5 – Andrew Bynum has developed into arguably one of the ten best players in the NBA this year and will be too much for Denver to handle inside. The Nuggets also lack a big time scorer to go shot for shot with Kobe.

Guest Contributor Justin Fritze, weighs in with his Eastern and Western Conference picks –

Bulls vs. Sixers –

This series is going to be fascinating to watch. Will Derrick Rose be able to find his groove or is he going to just muscle his way into the lane and hope he draws fouls? Like the year before when the Sixers gave the Heat trouble, I can see the pass-first Sixers taking two games at best (one on the road/one in Chicago’s shiny new arena), but the newly acquired Rip Hamilton finally coming through with 3 pointers to put away the Sixers with inside out passing off the double team.

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if Derrick Rose turns it over, Iguodala gets to the line, and Boozer once and for all proves that he isn’t worth the contract he was given? Derrick Rose, despite the weight of the city crushing his soul, should get a pass if he doesn’t play lights out. This guy has had an injury to almost every part of his body throughout the year. Still taking Bulls in 6.

Knicks vs. Heat –

A few things will happen if the Heat don’t win this in 4. Knick fans will become psychotic, Lebron James will have that PTSD look in his eyes, and Dwyane Wade will become a man on fire.

But let us all have a little reflection on the roster of guards the Knicks have, because next year half of them will retire or look for big money. Mike Bibby, the oldest “33 year old” I’ve ever seen, sounded fun at the beginning of the year but looks genuinely tired, physically/spiritually/subconsciously. Baron Davis, who after tossing Blake Griffin a basketball through a moonroof was sent to basketball purgatory, rebounding to the Knicks and looking like a little fat Buddha with a bad back, to now possibly being the savior of the Knicks playoff hopes. Toney Douglas, who as soon as he enters the game causes Knick fans to pour out a double shot of Jager, and the always social media savvy JR Smith. JR Smith loves the ladies.

Let’s not forget the greatest 3 point shooter in the universe Steve “I Am Legend” Novak. I will be buying a Novak jersey regardless of what happens at any point after today. Ok Knick fans. Are you ready? Knicks in 7. KNICKS IN 7! Am I drunk still from the Rangers game 7 win? You bet your ass I am.

Pacers vs. Magic –

Fun series right? Nope. No Dwight Howard (who I loathe almost as much as Metta Call Of Duty), so now it’s going to be a 3 point festival on the Magic side of the ball. The Pacers are going to take this in 5, and I don’t even imagine it being close. Sure the Magic are going to try and change their philosophy of 3 ball/inside to Dwight, but Stan Van Gundy is already thinking of a new job. Why stress this thing when you know for a fact everything is getting blown up at the end of the year? Danny Granger and Roy Hibbert are going to dominate inside, and guys like Ryan Anderson and JJ Reddick are going to get desperate real early in game 4, chucking up 3’s a la Novakia (a Russian cousin of Steve Novak). Pacers in 5.

Celtics vs. Hawks –

The great battle of old soldiers against the constant underachievers. They should put a picture of Joe Johnson/JR Smith/Al Horford in the digital version of Merriam Webster’s new dictionary right next to the word. Great 2K12 team, not so much in reality. I really think the Celtics are going to put in a statement game at home, get that fire going early, and put the Hawks down 2-0 quick. This is going to go 6 though, as the Celtics can’t keep the pace up all the way through. Rondo is going to put up a triple double at some point in this series, and Ray Allen will rain 3’s from the high heavens. My only fear is Josh Smith and his scowl. Want something to chew on? Josh Smith has never made an all star game. Celtics in 6. Fear the eyes of Pavlovic.

Thunder vs. Mavericks 

Last night does not make anyone in Oklahoma City feel good. The Thunder looked lost, anxious, nervous, and generally off balance for most of the night as Dallas looked every bit the team that got them to the Finals last year. There were a few things swinging the wrong way. Durant couldn’t get an open look, the knife’s edge that is Russell Westbrook taking jumpers became the only steady thing the Thunder had going, and the enforcer of the Thunder (Kendrick Perkins) was getting worked over by the bigs of Dallas. So where does that leave the series? 7 games. No less. Dirk is going to shoot the lights out, Jason Terry is again crushing the souls of opposing fans with effortless 3 pointers, and the duo of Vince Carter and Jason Kidd has more playoff experience than the entire Thunder roster. Durant and his game winner will quickly be forgotten if they split games going into Dallas. Thunder in 7.

Spurs vs. Jazz 

While I am a big fan of the new look Jazz (without Williams/Boozer), I know that the Spurs want to get this series out of the way as fast as possible. Call it the will of the ancients, the old man strength syndrome or simply the wisdom of the ages, the Spurs and the Mavericks are going to simply out-scheme teams like the Thunder and the Jazz. The Spurs are healthier, younger (Joseph/Leonard), and somehow outpaced every single team in the West with the best coach in the NBA manning the helm like an old fishing boat captain. Spurs in 5

Clippers vs. Grizzlies

The Clippers have everything they need to counter the inside out game of the Grizzlies. Chris Paul has proven this entire season that he is the best closing point guard in the game, but I (along with the rest of casual observers) do not trust Vinny in crunch time. Despite an assistant coach masquerading as a head coach, I see the force of Nick Young/Mo Williams and Chris Paul doing too much to let the Grizzlies run away with it. Clippers in 6.

Lakers vs. Nuggets

Denver has one thing going for it. Age. Their guards are 21, 24, 24, 26, 27, 27 and the ancient Andre Miller at 36. They might actually outcoach the Lakers, but the coinflip that is Kobe Bryant’s mentality on whether to shoot/get others involved is going to be the outcome of this series. He knows the window is just about closed, so look for him to try and get this thing out of the way in 5 games. Lakers in 5. Nuggets will be back next year, and probably the year after that so don’t get too discouraged Denver.