Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Year’s Resolutions

Here at the Beef we have been relatively slow during the holiday season. This has been because of certain circumstances that have befallen the both of us as of late (i.e. work and the lack of regular internet). However, with the dawn of a new year upon us we pledge to continue, if not whole heartedly ramp up, the quality you have come to expect from us.

We closed out 2010 on a high note and hope that it shall continue. In March the Beef will celebrate its one year anniversary and we have you, the reader, to thank for the successes that we have seen. Thank you.

On to our resolutions:

We resolve to continue to be as opinionated as we have been, to improve the site for the benefit of us and you, to try and stay away from all of the trade rumors that saturate the everyday “news” of the NBA (unless we deem it worthy), to point out the failings of so-called good teams, to write about Kevin Love and JaVale McGee even more, to sit by and watch the NBA come to a work stoppage, to give credit to the young players who are poised to take over the league, to continue to call the center position dead, and to keep our faith in one day seeing the Larry O’Brien trophey raised in Dallas by some one wearing a Mavericks jersey.

Again, thank you for all the support. Have a happy new year.  

P.S. We promise to continue to ignore all of you conversations when we are together to talk about basketball.

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Brown’s out but the problems are staying

It isn't you, it's me.

Larry Brown is known for his ability to turn teams around.  Though criticized for not staying in the same place for long, the well-traveled coach can turn losers into winners.

Before Jason Kidd went to New Jersey, the Nets had only made the playoffs in ten of their 25 seasons in the NBA.  They made it in 1982 and 83 under Brown.  The same happened with the Clippers when he coached them to their first two trips to the playoffs in 1992 and 93.  In his first season in San Antonio, the Spurs were the worst team in the league.  He took them to the playoffs the next season in what would become one of the greatest turnarounds in NBA history.

And now, he is moving again in the midst of changing teams due to his inability to shut his mouth.  He targeted Stephen Jackson publicly after he was ejected 4 ½ minutes into a loss in Milwaukee.  The Boston Celtics held them to 62 points in Charlotte.  It has been a messy season with no scoring and no impressive wins.

Michael Jordan was dealing with a coach that was unable to hold a team together and saw a crossroads when they hit 9-19 on the season.   Regardless of the situation, the Bobcats are turning into a complete and utter failure.  Jackson isn’t the force that he used to be and his scoring is down.  Gerald Wallace has already experienced ankle problems this season.

Brown turned them into a playoff team last season and now it looks like they are falling apart just as quickly as he put them together.  The loss of Raymond Felton is really leaving a mark in Charlotte.  D.J. Augustin did what any smart player that wanted run point should do and declared that he was ready for the position.  He isn’t.  He hasn’t shown up against the big teams and was even held to 0-8 from the field against Boston.

Meanwhile, Felton is in the middle of some wild times at Madison Square Garden as Spike Lee is getting to see a little more notches in the win column than he’s used to.  However, it’s the sheer depth in Charlotte that is so bad.

Tyson Chandler was traded for Eduardo Najera, Matt Carroll and Erick Dampier who was nearing the end of an expensive contract.  They saw the opportunity in Damp for trade bait but they ended up just waiving him at the end of the summer.

Instead of doing something smart, they signed Kwame Brown

Tyrus Thomas shows promise but is only getting 20 minutes a night and averaging just above 10 points a game.  He has only started once this season.  He’s averaging well over 20 in games where he sees 30 minutes or more.  He simply isn’t getting the time he needs to grow.  This in turn reflects poorly on Brown as well.

When we look to the bench for any promising young guys, it’s pretty bleak.  In the 2010 Draft, Charlotte would have had the 18th pick in the draft.  They traded it away to get the 20th pick in the 2008 draft.  They drafted Alexis Ajinça who plays in Dallas now.  There is nothing on the horizon but an overconfident point guard and a young forward that isn’t getting enough minutes.

By the way here are some players drafted after Ajinça in the 2008 draft:

26. George Hill

34. Mario Chalmers

45. Goran Dragić

It’s simple: it was time for change but coaching shouldn’t be the only shakeup.

General manager and former Bull, Rod Higgins, has not been making the best decisions for this franchise.  However, it really comes down to Michael Jordan’s inability to run a team.

He’s been with the franchise since 2006 and was a part of bringing Brown to Charlotte in 2008.  Jordan oversees all basketball operations there.  It’s his mess.

Paul Silas is coaching and don’t expect much.  They do have a chunk of guys entering free agency and they will save a lot of money if Boris Diaw leaves (paying him $9,000 this season.  He hasn’t scored 20 points on back-to-back nights all year).

It’s time to rethink the guard position and look to bring in a veteran that knows how to run the court (hint: Mo Williams has an early termination option on his contract that ends at the end of this season).

Same goes for the center position and if you look at most of the contenders this season, they are stacked with at least four players they can move in and out of the four and five positions (just look at the rotations they are able to run in Dallas, LA and Boston).  Kwame is not going to cut it and Nazr Mohammed isn’t having a consistent season.

Luckily, they will have the opportunity to free up money in free agency but we have already seen that they have no idea to spend it.  They haven’t traded away their first-round pick for this season… yet and we have yet to see what a potential lockout’s affect could be on college players seeking big money (It has been speculated that 2012 is where it’s at).

Yes, it does seem as though it was time for Larry to go and the way things are shaping out, Charlotte will remain bad.  Trades are always a possibility but I can’t imagine many teams looking to Charlotte for anything other than a place to dump old talent that they no longer want to pay.  They have a chance to start over but knowing how things are run in Charlotte, they wont realize it until it’s too late.

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‘Party Machine’ returns to Orlando.

 

Welcome back.

 

In what has proven to be a season full of trade murmurs, two teams have made quite a loud noise.

According to sources, the Orlando Magic have agreed to a trade in principle with the Phoenix Suns.

They will be getting Hedo Turkoglu back along with Jason Richardson and Earl Clark.  The Suns will be receiving Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat, Mikael Pietrus, a 2011 first-round draft pick and cash.

Orlando has been playing terribly as of late by losing five of its last six games and moves seem to be their only answer to improving.  The Magic also happen to be in trade talks with the Wizards to acquire Gilbert Arenas for Rashard Lewis.

Turkoglu saw his best days in Orlando in an offense that somehow let him flourish offensively.  He averaged close to 20 points and five assists a game in 2007-08 season for Orlando and helped take them to the Finals in 2009.  The risk is if he will return to form from poor performances in both Phoenix and Toronto since playing in Florida.

If the Lewis trade occurs, he could see an opportunity to start in Orlando but Brandon Bass is sure to make a run for the starting position as well.  Bass’s minutes have increased to 22 a game which is higher than the 19 a game he played in Dallas.  In addition, he is scoring more than ever before with 10 points a game along with 5 rebounds a night.

Richardson is having a very impressive season with 19 points a game and is coming off of a season where he and the Phoenix Suns surprised a lot of people by making it to the Western Conference Finals. Orlando’s bench is 18th in the league in scoring with only 28 points a game.  J Rich will score but Van Gundy will have to play him.

With Carter’s expiring contract and a sense of urgency in the midst of the Heat’s winning streak, Orlando obviously knew that a changeup needed to occur.  Sitting at 16-9 while Miami just won its 10th straight game, fourth in the East isn’t going to cut it for the Magic who have known nothing but failure in the playoffs.

The team is 24th in the league in scoring with barely 98 a game and Carter is having the worst scoring season of his career with only 15 a game.  Gortat is only scoring 4 points a game while Pietrus is only managing to scrounge up 6 a night.  It’s time to retool the lineup so they don’t fall any further in the conference standings

The next move for Arenas would increase their guard depth and would dump the remaining $118 million Lewis has on his six-year deal that only has two and a half years left on it.

This is easily the biggest trade of the season and that really isn’t saying much.  Aside from the New Orleans-Toronto and the Lakers-Houston-Nets trade, things have been pretty quite.  This trade sends two serviceable players to the Magic and allows them to dump Carter off (sorry but it hasn’t been a great ride for him in Orlando).  It’s still questionable as to why Phoenix has any interest in acquiring him.

In addition, Otis Smith is telling the league that he isn’t afraid to make major moves with a possible player’s strike on the horizon.  However, both Boston and Miami have made it very clear that the East is going to be very hard to win.  New York has shown its teeth this season and Carmelo Anthony moving to New Jersey could make things interesting out East as well.

Orlando has already split two games with Miami and their Knicks game was postponed.  They play Boston for the first time on Christmas day which should be a good chance for them to showcase whether or not bringing back Turkoglu was a good idea.

Unfortunately, the trade doesn’t do much for the Suns.  Carter is old and essentially invisible these days while Pietrus hasn’t been good since Golden State.  Gortat will give them an extra big guy for their rotation but that’s about it.

If both of these trades go through, Orlando will show the league that it’s ready to make another run to the Finals.

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Joakim Noah has Successful Surgery

 

Injuries continue to hamper the Bulls

Joakim Noah had successful surgery on his thumb today. He will have a follow-up visit on Monday and will likely need a cast. When speaking about his need to have surgery, Noah said, “it sucks, but it’s [the] right thing.”

With Noah down for anywhere from eight to ten weeks for the Chicago Bulls the same old Bulls story of recent years begins to emerge once again. Noah played through the pain this season and kept it quiet. It was obvious that his thumb was bothering him though as he wrapped it regularly. Yet, he continued to produce because the team needed him as they waited for Carlos Boozer to return to health after tripping over his gym bag this summer.

Injuries during the regular season have unfortunately become the modus operandi of the Bulls in recent seasons but that in no way undermines their resilience. Last year, with Noah out, the Bulls went 6-12 and lost ten in a row. Derrick Rose missed four of the games during the ten game slide so that certainly did not improve their chances of success. Nonetheless, the Bulls, with the backing of a Rose guarantee, battled through the pain on route to the playoffs.

This season Chicago is a different squad. They brought in pieces to help them battle beyond and in spite of injuries. Last season it was Brad Miller and Taj Gibson who stepped in during Noah’s absence. This year Miller is gone. However, in his place the Bulls have Omer Asik and a veteran in Kurt Thomas who has proved time and again that he is still a valuable frontcourt commodity with a nice midrange jump shot with the ability to defend and rebound. Certainly, the Bulls will need all the help they can get from their depth now.

More than just bench help, the Bulls will need to keep their young point guard healthy. Rose has been battling a sprained right wrist, bruised elbow, a tweaked ankle, and sore hip the past several games and has been listed as day-to-day. Ever the determined player, Rose said, “If it is up to me, I’m playing. I’m sore, but I should be able to play through it.” Chicago certainly needs him to. If they were to lose Rose for any length of time the Bulls would find themselves in a precarious situation.

Chicago currently sits in first place in their division with a record of 16-8 which has them in fourth overall in the eastern conference. They likely will not seed much if any ground to the Pacers who are back to Indy .500 form in the central division. What they do have to worry about is being caught and surpassed by Orlando, Atlanta, and New York who are all breathing down Chicago’s neck. The Knicks and Hawks are a game back of the Bulls while Orlando is just a half game back. Milwaukee is also showing a marked improvement in their play of late and may start making a push in the central division.

What bodes well for Chicago is that the next ten weeks are arguably the easiest part of their schedule. The Bulls will not see a considerably tough stretch of games in a row until 7 February through the beginning of March. Until that time the only teams that Chicago faces with winning records are the Knickerbockers, Celtics, Heat, Mavericks, and Magic during a span of 25 games. By that time Noah should be back to full health and they will need him.

On 7 February the Bulls will be on the road in Portland in the middle of a five game road trip swing through the west. After Portland they travel to Salt Lake City and then to New Orleans before returning home for two games in which they host the Spurs. They then host the Heat two games later before going on another five game road trip in which they will play the Bucks, Wizards, Hawks, Magic, and Heat. For this stretch of games the Bulls will need to be at full strength as the battle for playoff seeding will be in full force especially after the All Star break.

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A little trade with big implications

Future team mates?

In a season that has not very much player movement, yesterday’s trade could translate into something bigger.

The Nets traded Terrence Williams to the Rockets in a three-way deal that sent Sasha Vujacic and two future first-round draft picks their way.

The Lakers in turn landed veteran forward Joe Smith and two future second-round picks from New Jersey.

Seems pretty minimal on the surface but it’s the bigger picture that needs to be taken into consideration with this trade.

The Lakers are getting a veteran in Smith who has been in the league for 15 years now.  Andrew Bynum is finally back and head coach Phil Jackson finally has the leisure of a big-man rotation.  Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will get some much needed rest and will see a dramatically smaller amount of playing time.

He is coming in at a time where they can really play with their rotation in what should prove to be a very easy road trip through the East that puts them up against Indiana, Philadelphia and Toronto before heading home to host Milwaukee.

In addition, the Lakers are freeing up nearly $5 million in cap space.  Right now, they have three contracts worth over $12 million a year and it’s time for teams to save money with an impending lockout on the horizon.

Not all is looking up for the defending champions who aren’t coming out of the gates strong like they did last season.  They haven’t beaten a team that made the playoffs last season since November 23 when they beat the Bulls that didn’t have Carlos Boozer at the time.  Since then, they have gone 5-5.

The Rockets saw the least in this trade with just their acquisition of Williams.  However, the Nets just recalled the second-year player from the D League on December 7 after he averaged 28 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists a game for the Springfield Armor.

He is only averaging 6 points a game this season but showed promise at the end of last year by averaging over 14 a game in February and March.  Houston needs depth right now and he will provide some but how much is still unknown.

New Jersey comes out the best in this trade and without even really acquiring anyone… yet.  Overall, they received the Lakers’ 2011 first-round pick and Houston’s 2012 lottery-protected first-rounder.  They now have five first-round picks over the next two seasons.

However, it doesn’t seem as though the Nets plan on using those picks.  It has been speculated that their main plan is to utilize the picks in a trade offer for Carmelo Anthony who has shown signs that he wishes to leave Denver.  Unfortunately, it seems as though the Knicks are the front runners for acquiring the young superstar.

Last season, the Knicks dumped everything to offer LeBron James the big money to come to the Big Apple but he declined so he could join a “loaded” Miami team.  Seems as though Anthony would want to do the same and not be the pivotal building block in New Jersey.

As of now, the Knicks are first in the league in scoring with 108 a game and are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak.  Amar’e Stoudemire is taking more shots and Mike D’Antoni is letting the team run.  It just seems like a better fit for Melo who has already proven that he is unable to lead a team.

With New Jersey and their picks, it really comes down to what Denver wants.  Right now, they are banged up.  Chauncey Billups is out due to ligament damage in his right wrist.  In addition, Kenyon Martin is not sure when he will return from his injury.  He may be taking his time seeing as he will be a free agent this summer and any sort of re-injury wont help him land big money.

Denver sits at the crossroads of win now or win later.  Win with what you have or use a trade to load up on picks and essentially start over.  With what they have now, losing Anthony will do nothing but hurt especially when all they will essentially acquire are draft picks.

The Nets are sitting on a lot of picks that will be instrumental to their building over the next two seasons.  We have yet to see how they will utilize them but they could have gigantic implications.  Stay tuned…

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Age limits come into question

 

Sebastian Telfair and LeBron James only have one thing in common.

 

While the NBA is looking at proposals to end the soft salary cap, do away with guaranteed contracts and even cut players’ salaries, the players themselves are lobbying their own war that raises a few eyebrows.

A source from the NBA Players Association has stated that they would like to see basketball return to “the way it was.”  This return would include ending the age restrictions enforced by the NBA.

Since the 2005-06 Season, players have been required to be 19 during the year of that specific draft and be one year removed from their high school graduation year.

The league did not address the age requirements in the collective bargaining agreement sent to the players in February and commissioner David Stern has shown that he prefers to raise the required age to 20.

Names such as LeBron James and Kobe Bryant come to mind when the age argument is brought up.  However, we do forget the ever-becoming more forgettable careers of Sebastian Telfair and Shaun Livingston who both also entered the league straight out of high school.  Simply put, more players that came out of high school are trash than those who are actually making names for themselves.

However, it has been estimated that the interest in lowering the age is more of a deal that the union put into the agreement as a bargaining chip.  Stern and the league will refuse that part of the deal and the players may be able to adjust another part of the proposed changes in contract money.

Right now, the players are guaranteed a 57 percent in basketball-related revenues.  The union is willing to remove that guarantee.  The disagreement between the players and owners is on the hard cap, the $800 million dollar cut in salaries, an end to guaranteed contracts and contract lengths.

The union also would like to change the way trades occur.  Right now, any two players that are traded for one another must have contracts that are within 125 percent of each other.  They would like to double this figure which would allow teams to dump players with large contracts more easily.

In addition, the players would like to see revenue sharing come more from the owners’ pocket books.  They are seeking more money to come from national and local television revenue to go to the teams in smaller markets.

Their proposal to do away with age restrictions is simply hot smoke.  Such talk will freak out owners and more importantly Stern.  Could lend them a small amount of leverage in the talks that are continuing to raise alarm of an impending lockout next season.

The NBA has no use for it’s players to get any younger or richer and both sides seem to be deadlocked in which is better for the league.

Anytime we talk about Livinston, this video instantly comes to mind.  Enjoy.

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