I think I'm getting old, because I keep forgetting important things. I'll forget my phone or my wallet or my shoes or keys before I leave my apartment. I'll forget to do the laundry or to go to the grocery store. I blame this not only on increased age, but on the intellectual rot of post-college life.
Troubling as this is, it basically gives me free entertainment. I'll forget that the Magic are trying to placate Dwight Howard by trading Brandon Bass for the crappier and more expensive Glen "Big Baby" Davis, but then I'll look at the Magic roster, remember that they're letting Dwight run their team so he won't opt out of his contract, and laugh a little. I'll forget about this for a few days, and the whole process will repeat itself. Hilarious as the Magic's stumbling personnel decisions are, the best examples of this are from the two LA teams, however.
The Clippers have two great point guards on their team: Chris Paul (Point Guard Jesus) and Chauncey Billups (Point Guard John the Baptist....? Maybe? Not really). For a while it looked like everyone had forgotten that the Clippers (suspiciously) claimed Billups off of waivers last week, because despite his declaration of war against any and all parties who might claim him, nobody in the media seemed to ask Chauncey about being on the Clippers (first as the presumed starter, and then as the presumed starting 2-guard). So it's good news (for Chauncey and the Clippers) that he's suddenly excited about his new role.
I never forgot about the Billups "situation," but I did forget that the Clips have another point guard on their roster: Mo Williams. This amuses me greatly. I laugh every time I see that. I forgot he was in the league last year. I'm serious: I really thought he was in China or something.
There was a time when he was quietly pretty-good-to-excellent, but if any particular player lost out when Lebron left for Miami, it was Mo. He went from being the starting point guard on a perpetual contender, to (unfortunately) the face of the Cavaliers' franchise, to traded for Baron Davis's corpse, to the third-string point guard on a team that might be a real contender. All that in the space of about eighteen months. Most horrifying for him, he has managed to erase himself from my short-term memory, and is the source of a small chuckle every time I do remember him.
Mo is a small tragicomedy, but the Lakers have moved into post-Shaq levels of ridiculousness. They traded Odom for cap space (or something), their fourth-best player is now Metta World Peace, and because Stephen A Smith made some off-hand comments to Lakers fans on his radio show, the rumor that Kobe Bryant requested a trade swirled around the intertubes a few days ago. But that's not even the best part. I keep forgetting about the best part, and you probably did, too:
Mike Brown is coaching the Lakers! Mike Brown, the guy who had the best player in the world but designed one of its most boring and stultifying offenses, is now coaching a veteran team that has operated in the triangle offense since forever. The "rational" part of me says, "Oh, Mike Brown isn't that bad. He ran some excellent teams around what was essentially Lebron James, some rebounders and some spot-up shooters for five years." The "irrational" part of me -- the part that knows that regardless of "facts" there is some basic chaotic force to the universe that makes for wonderful and bizarre situations -- says, "Holy crap! Mike Brown! Kobe is going to stab him by March!"
And what makes this so great is that Mike Brown is so faceless and anonymous in my mind that I'll forget about that within three or four hours, only to have the hilarious revelation appear to me once again tonight or tomorrow. It's really great, even if it means I'm getting early onset Reagans or something.
More (hopefully more memorable) links after the jump:
I keep saying I won't write anything more about the failed trade, but I keep reading about it, which means I keep thinking about it, which means I'll probably keep writing about it.
In the wake of the Clippers trade, many were willing to say that Stern and the League Office has (kinda-sorta) vindicated themselves because the new trade was (and I think this is somewhat debatable) better than the original offers. Well, regardless of how well the Hornets eventually made out, that didn't change what originally went down: Rockets/Lakers/Hornets negotiate for weeks, the trade was basically done, and then the League Office came down hard out of seemingly nowhere. And, according to the Chronicle, that's exactly what happened, and Stern's pathetic attempts to revise history (which are, not-so-bizarrely given human kind's memory span, actually working) are full of shit:
"He said that David was briefed and that it was a done deal," one of the individuals with knowledge of the talks said. "He (Demps) said multiple times that he briefed both of his local officials, (Hornets president) Hugh Webber and (Hornets chairman) Jac Sperling, and they and Dell at regular intervals were updating (NBA vice presidents) Stu Jackson and Joel Litvin and that they told David himself throughout the day. Also, Hugh and Jac, who were updating the league office, understood it to be a deal."
"Until the trade was complete with the Clippers, they (the Rockets, Hornets and Lakers) were in constant negotiations," the individual with knowledge of the talks said. "(Alexander) doesn't believe the league negotiated in good faith.
"They were using them (the Rockets) to up the ante with the Clippers."
Woj didn't get the wool pulled over his eyes, either:
The league insists this was a normal negotiation process, but it was nothing close. As an institution, it is easy to renege on a deal for a top-five player and seek out a better one because you never have to negotiate with these people again. That’s an unfair advantage for the NBA, and purely destructive for those left in the job in New Orleans.
If you're still willing to read more reactions to the deal-that-wasn't, or if you just want to read a season preview and excellent article about the ridiculousness of the NBA's free agent market, Bill Simmons has this:
Needs: To play in a league that's not rigged.
Additional Notes: They spent three years stacking enough assets to make that Pau Gasol trade. There was no Plan B. Might be time to bottom out and rebuild. In the meantime, they'll probably lock down Dalembert for short money (maybe $13-14 million for two years).
What They SHOULD Do: Make a Godfather offer to Boston — Luis Scola, Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin and Goran Dragic for Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Jermaine O'Neal and the rights to that Clippers pick that becomes unprotected in 2016. I hate giving up Rondo and wouldn't do it — I think he's headed for a monster eff-you season — but wouldn't the Celtics at least have to have a couple of long meetings about that offer? And did you know that, when future Houston GM Daryl Morey was working for Boston during the 2006 regular season (before Houston hired him away in April), Rondo was his favorite 2006 draft prospect and the reason Danny Ainge traded for Rondo's rights?
Eh, not really.
Speaking of season previews, Xiane and I talked about the Indiana Pacers a lot last night, and we're both agreed that the Pacers are suddenly pretty awesome. He says they're the "death" of the Celtics (they are!) and I think they've got a shot at the 4th seed in the East (they do!). For a more in-depth preview of the up-and-comers, here's BDL's preview:
This is the team that put up 144 points in a game last year. This is the team that made an on-paper one-sided series against the Chicago Bulls interesting last April. This is the group that played to four-figure audiences way too many times last season, but seemingly had all of the League Pass junkie eyes set squarely on the Pacer game on channel 753. This is the group that gave Frank Vogel a chance, this is the team that just added David West, and this is the squad that might play in the sweetest stadium in the whole of the NBA.
The more I think about it, if things go right for the Pacers, they might be able to just basically walk into the Eastern Conference Finals, depending on how things go down. If they meet, say, the Knicks in the first round, they'll probably win. And if they meet the Celtics (fresh off of an "upset" win over the Magic) in the semifinals, they win that, too. It's silly to start crowning champions in the preseason, but the Pacers look really, really good. They've basically accomplished what the Rockets have been trying to do in the last two years: create a playoff team without any stars (you might think Granger and West are stars, but not really. They're really great, but calling them "stars" seems to dilute the meaning of the term). Of course, they get to play in the East, which helps a LOT.
Posted in the comments section last night: here's a very good interview with Chronicle Rockets beat writer Jonathon Feigen.
Chandler Parsons played last night because he finally got signed. The Rockets were keeping him unsigned while they were figuring out the free agency situation. His deal is structured much like that of Chase Budinger: like a first rounder's, and inexpensive.
Rockets LEGEND Scottie Pippen is apparently actually Scotty Pippen.
48 Minutes of Hell sees shades of the Spurs' playoff loss to the Grizzlies in last night's game. The Rockets' somewhat-shaky frontcourt had a very good game last night, and the Spurs' interior needs to improve:
Why is it such a problem to pair they Blair and Splitter together? In short, neither can shoot anything outside the paint. Paired with a shooting big, both Blair and Splitter are each capable of hurting teams inside. But when they’re together, they’re constantly creeping into the space the other needs to be effective.
The front court issues are compounded by the fact that, outside of Tim Duncan, the Spurs’ interior defense is abysmal. The Spurs’ front court gave up 37 points and 18 rebounds to Luis Scola and Jordan Hill. Tiago Splitter is a competent defender, but it’s hard to pair him with Blair because of the all offense-centric reason.
Jordan Hill's cousin was killed last week in their home town, and Jason Friedman at Rockets.com takes a look at Hill's life and struggles:
"I’ve been going through a lot of adversity throughout my life and certainly sometimes I’m the guy that has trouble dealing with it, but I’m going to try my best to go out there and push everything aside and do what I have to do first, then step back and work everything else out after I’m done with work."
Not basketball, but needs to be read (thanks to the Crawfish Boxes for this one) -- the Platoon Advantage applies Hall-of-Fame writers' standards to those same writers.
And, courtesy of ClutchFans.net, here's Marcus Morris doing some shooting drills.