Author Archives: Ben Gooding

Memphis and Wiz, Slow Your Roll

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Staying put… for now.

This past year, Washington D.C. looks like the worst place to be a young athlete. Stephen Strasburg benched, Robert Griffin III sidelined with injury and John Wall missing a huge chunk of this year’s NBA season. Now that Wall is finally back, looks like the Wiz have already made an attempt to dump their Rookie of the Year candidate.

Wait, what?

Yes, after just one Washington game with both Bradley Beal and Wall in the Wizard’s backcourt, trade rumors are swirling around the young rookie out of Florida who was taken third overall in the 2012 draft. Sources are reporting this morning that Wiz GM Ernie Grunfield apparently sent an offer to Memphis for Rudy Gay.

Memphis has put it out there that they are shopping the starting forward in his seventh season out of UConn and already fallen out of a possible trade with Toronto. Problem with that trade: the Griz were asking for too much. The deal would have potentially sent Jose Calderon, Jonas Valanciunas and Terrence Ross to the city of Graceland.

In return, Toronto would have gotten an average perimeter scorer who has yet to live up to his larger-than-life ability that people saw him achieving. Not to mention Gay’s contract that has another $37 million attached to it after this season. The biggest knock on Gay coming out of college was his lack of a voice and leadership. It’s looking like he’s never going to develop those traits.

Washington is definitely looking for more scoring. Right now, the Wiz are last in the league in scoring with a mere 89.4 points a game. Additionally, their frontcourt is less than stellar. Emeka Okafor is having the worst season of his career with less minutes and Nene hasn’t been healthy. It’s going to take a lot more than Martell Webster to take a team to the postseason especially on a team that is currently experiencing its only winning streak of the season with two.

By putting Beal on the block, the Wizards are showing a complete disregard for their future. We have seen the two-guard combo work on several other teams if not to bolster their roster at the time but to build a tradeable player later down the road (Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis with Ellis being sent to Milwaukee and Golden State sitting pretty well right now with that 5th seed in the West). Right now, a third overall pick for an underwhelming forward doesn’t just doesn’t seem fair.

The same could be said for Memphis. Frankly, the frontcourt with Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol and Gay is working out. They took the Clippers to seven games last season in the first round and the year before they upset the No. 1 seeded Spurs; however, Gay missed that series with a shoulder injury. The trade would also completely disregard their breaking up of the O.J. Mayo/Mike Conley backcourt. Mayo is now in Dallas and would load their backcourt back up. Although that deal was done to save money in the long run, Memphis is winning with defense and bringing in a young guard would not contribute to that formula.

It’s conclusive that this trade really didn’t need to happen. Both Memphis and Washington need to step back and look at what they really need. Frankly, the Wiz’s season is already over. With only six wins, it’s apparent that they need to build that frontcourt with the draft since there really is nothing to save with their 2012-13 season.

In Memphis, it’s always been about saving money for an organization that needs to step up and spend some cash. Yes, they do have four max contracts with Connely, Randolph, Gasol and Gay but that’s not necessarily a bad thing when you have a chance to win now. This team just learned how to make the playoffs so it would be best to see how that plays out.

Put the brakes on guys. This trade did not need to happen since it would have been premature on just about every level.

 

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Setting of a Sun

Steve Nash sidelined with a bruised thigh against the Dallas Mavericks January 30, 2012.

On March 29, 2010, the Lakers defeated the Suns 111-103 in game six of the Western Conference Finals.  The loss marked the end of another disappointing season for Phoenix.

It was an unlikely journey to the conference finals for the Suns after they had defeated Portland in the first round (4-2) and completely swept San Antonio in the conference quarterfinals.

However, despite how recent that playoff run was, it may seem very far away to Steve Nash and it should.  He takes the court now with only a few players left from the D’Antoni era of seven seconds or less.  Meanwhile, Shannon Brown, Sebastian Telfair, Michael Redd and rookie Markief Morris are sitting in the seats that once cradled the talents of Amar’e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson, Raja Bell, Kurt Thomas, Boris Diaw and Leandro Barbosa.

Since that loss in the Western Conference Finals, Steve Kerr resigned probably out of embarrassment over the Shaq deal and they dumped $80 million into Hedo TürkoğluJosh Childress and Hakim Warrick to replace Stoudemire. On December 19, 2010, the Suns acquired Vince CarterMickaël Piétrus, and Marcin Gortat from the Orlando Magic, along with a low draft pick and cash considerations. For this acquisition, the Suns traded Jason RichardsonEarl Clark, and the recently acquired Türkoğlu. On February 24, 2011 the Suns acquired Point guard Aaron Brooks(Currently playing in China), trading first round (Lottery Protected) draft pick and Point guard Goran Dragić to the Houston Rockets.

Only three of the players mentioned above still play for the Suns.

Enter the rebuilding phase for the once most dangerous offense in the league and a tough decision concerning the face of the franchise…

What the hell to do with Nash?

At seasons end, Steve’s contract ends with the Suns who have supposedly received several offers from other teams in the league for the 37-year-old point guard.  None of them have impressed owner Robert Sarver who fully plans on throwing a two-year deal at Nash in order to retain him for one last “run.”

Sarver has stated: “”I don’t know that I can sit there for four years and watch a terrible team play.”

Team demolition isn’t on the owner’s mind just yet.

If they use the amnesty clause on Childress, they should have $33 million in cap space.  Primetime free agents Dwight Howard and Deron Williams are most certainly not looking to play out in the desert, which leaves them with only Nash worth throwing a max deal at.  This will free up money for them to pursue players such as O.J. Mayo or Nicolas Batum both of which won’t turn this team around.

But what about Nash?  What does he want?

TV analyst and former player Chris Webber made his opinion known on NBA TV just over a year ago:

“I’m getting a ‘Free Nash’ T-shirt. You know how when people go to jail, you get a ‘Free Tyson’ T-shirt? A ‘Free Nash’ T-shirt, because I want him out of Phoenix. He has 15 points, seven assists — he cannot do any more than what he’s doing. He’s a hard worker, he plays hard. Free Steve Nash.”

Since, a #FreeSteveNash movement has formed and the point guard himself, has kept him mouth shut.  He’s on the verge of becoming the team’s all-time assists leader here soon but his future does not need to be in Phoenix.

Some use the word “ring chaser” but this falls more in line with “self-respect” chaser since the Suns lost theirs a while back.  The rotation of crap players through the Suns’ locker room clearly shows that this franchise is clawing at relevance in a Western Conference that has done nothing but grown stronger.  Depending on where Dwight and Deron end up, the West could be getting even more powerful.

A desperation deal for 2 years, $8 million to Nash isn’t enough to have him close his eyes as Sarver continues to bring in less-than-stellar talent to Phoenix.  Instead, Nash needs to look elsewhere for a deal.

Lakers: they would be willing to spend the money for a new point guard.  It’s yet to be determined if the money is there but they would spend it.  Kobe Bryant knows that his window is closing for another ring and Nash could help them squeeze one last championship out.

Mavericks: a reuniting of Nash and Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas would spell championship.  The team did free up some cash by not throwing a max offer at Tyson Chandler and it would be easy to fit him into the lineup by rotating Jason Kidd to shooting guard.  What about Roddy Beaubois?  It’s yet to be determined if the guard can stay healthy.

Knicks: no question: New York would spend the cash and do anything in order to get a veteran point guard on their roster.  Ball movement is a big problem in NYC with a group of players that just can’t seem to create their own shots and get the ball to each other.  Also, I’m sure Nash wouldn’t mind playing for D’Antoni again.

As this tortuous season continues for the Suns that will most certainly be an irrelevant team once the postseason begins, Nash needs to sit back and consider his options.  Continue to be the face of an ailing franchise or take his talents where they will be fully used for a title run.

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Popeye Jones and Tony Dumas Hosting ‘Players On Film’

Insightful movie review by two former Dallas Mavericks.

 

 

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NBArmageddon

That's no moon, it's David Stern's newest negotiating tactic.

If NBA talks weren’t already hot enough right now, David Stern just cranked up the heat a little more.

During one of the busiest weeks these NBA labor negotiations have seen in the 91 days of the lockout, Stern announced that the 2011-12 season could be cancelled if major strides aren’t made in talks by the end of the weekend.

The NBA has already postponed training camps and cancelled preseason games scheduled for October 9-15.  Additionally, it has been speculated that the league would like to all together avoid an abbreviated season like the one in 1998-99, which means any cancelled games would ultimately lead to a cancelled season.

However, some have stated that Stern is using such words as more of a negotiation tactic in order to help get the ball moving before the biggest day of talks starting tomorrow in New York.  The NBA Players Association has asked several players such as Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James to be present at Friday’s talks.

Wade, who is already in the Big Apple for business meetings has stated that he is ready to get involved.  He was present in Dallas for the meetings surrounding the 2009 All-Star Game when players were first briefed about the impeding lockout.  Bryant is currently in Asia for a Nike promotional tour and most likely wont be in town for the meetings.  If LeBron shows,  it will be the first time he’s been in the same room with Cleveland Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert since he left for the Heat.

Just a few days ago, NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher urged players to be patient and unify during these negotiations.  In his letter he sent to players on September 27, he stated that players should not back down to the league seeing as they are the key assets of the league.  Not to mention they have become entrepreneurs themselves with their own companies and business ventures that go beyond the NBA.

According to NBA agent David Falk, it’s the players that have more to loose.  If talks fail and the season is cancelled, they will loose $2.16 billion, which was their 57 percent cut of NBA revenue last season.  Falk is best known for representing Michael Jordan and was an instrumental part of the negotiations during the 1995 and 1999 lockouts.  In an interview with Sports Illustrated, he stated that time is running out.

“It’s time to stop fooling around and make a deal. The waiting out period is over,” Falk said. “I can’t prove this and I may be wrong, but if I had to bet a lot of money I would bet that if we miss one game – one – the season will not happen. There are going to be no do-overs this time. That’s what I believe.”

Regardless of his comments, Falk isn’t as prominent in these talks as he was in the past.  He thinks that it’s time for the younger agents and players to step up and educate themselves.

The biggest hurdle in these talks is basketball related income and how it needs to be divided in the league.  Owners want to lower the players’ cut down to 46 or 48 percent while the players wont go lower than 52 percent.  The league’s revenues totaled $4 billion last season, which adds up to each percentage point representing approximately $40 million.

While the issue of BRI stands at the forefront, owners have stated that they will relax on their stance on the hard cap but only if certain conditions are met:

• The “Larry Bird exception,” which allows teams to exceed the cap to retain their own free agents regardless of their other committed salaries, is limited to one player per team per season.  In the past, it could be applied to any amount free agents on a team’s roster.

• The mid-level exception, which the league valued at $5.8 million last season and could be extended by as many as five years, is reduced in length and size.

• The current luxury tax, the $1-for-$1 penalty a team must pay to the league for the amount it exceeds the salary cap, is to be severely increased.  It has been said that they are seeking $4 for every $1 over the cap.

Owners also want a five percent reduction on all existing salaries for the season, a 7.5 percent reduction of all 2012-13 salaries and 10 percent reduction of 2013-14 salaries.

At the end of last season, several owners announced that they had lost millions, now it seems as though they are trying to set up rules to protect themselves from hemorrhaging even more.  Players and agents seek big salaries behind the notion stated above by Fisher: they are the league’s primary assets.

However, the underlying problem is that the NBA has it’s own market and rules that apply to it.  Players expect a certain amount and owners know this.  Each has to outbid others to either attract or resign a certain player.  It’s money that controls where they play in most instances and that’s certainly not about to change.  With this lockout, foreign teams have become even more present in this bidding war and to be frank, they are gaining more and more power in this game as the lockout continues.  Even five-time champion Bryant has stated that playing in Italy is an option.

The 1998-99 season is regarded as a joke and ironically resonates as an important season in NBA history due to how short it was.  With that said, Stern and the players would like to avoid repeating history 12 years later.  Though a shortened season would be another embarrassment for the NBA, it shouldn’t be ruled out.  More players will leave the league and both parties will loose billions.  With more money lost, sitting down at the negotiating table will be even harder.

More importantly though is that the NBA product will suffer.  Younger players that are missing games will loose the playing time that eventually develops NBA stars, older players will loose another year of their career and coaches will have a possible hangover to overcome in order to get their squads ready once the lockout finally ends.

A lot of money is on the table but if the play in the NBA is hurt, that money would have never been worth fighting for.

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Green Card for the Kings

The Maloof Empire needs a new palace.

While some NBA players are looking overseas for jobs, one franchise is looking abroad for cash.

Today, the Sacramento Bee reported that the Kings will be looking for funding for its new stadium from a little know federal program that offers green cards to wealthy immigrants who invest in business enterprises in the United States.

The program, known as EB-5, could be crucial in the funding for the proposed $387 million arena.  Sacramento Mayor and former NBA player Kevin Johnson has assembled a “task force” aimed at building the Kings a new arena and ultimately keeping them in the state capital.  Though the program won’t provide all of the funding for the arena, it could supply a substantial amount of money for the project.

The program, created by the Immigration Act of 1990, has projects in 25 states with 15 in California including the redevelopment of McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento.  The project provided $18 million to transform the base into a business park.  CMB Export, the company that found money for McClellan, says it has raised a total of $350 million for projects throughout California.

In fact, the program has already provided $249 million to finance improvements around the new NBA arena in Brooklyn, NY.

In order for the investors to obtain a green card through the program, they must invest $1,000,000 into a project (or at least $500,000 in an employment area) that preserves or creates 10 at least 10 jobs in rural or high-unemployment areas.  However, if the project fails within three or four years of the investment, the green cards will be denied.

Money from this program could be key in building the new stadium for several reasons beyond just simple funding.  It could soften the political climate around the arena since it would call for less money from the actual city.  Mayor Johnson’s task force has proposed selling off several pieces of city owned property that has angered several members of the city’s city hall.  Such selloffs could harm the already lowered property values of Sacramento.

The initial money raised by the program could also serve as a bridge loan for the new arena allowing construction to start very soon.  Unemployment has lowered in the area from 12.5 to 11.9 percent over the course of the summer but still sits at 12.4 percent in Sacramento.  The construction project alone could provide several jobs in the area.

However, this program has failed before in California.  Last year, US Citizenship and Immigration Services, which oversees EB-5, ended a project that raised $7.5 million to build a wastewater plant in the Southern California town of Victorville.  Officials in the small desert town proposed that the treatment plant would attract a Dr. Pepper Snapple bottling plant.  The agency wasn’t convinced of any correlation between project and job creation so the project was cancelled.  Subsequently, only one of the investors received a green card, which was a temporary one at that.

Earlier this month, Mayor Johnson revealed a plan that will provide 4,100 jobs and has promised that the area will attract several businesses that will generate millions in revenue.  All of this was proposed to Maloof Sports and Entertainment that decided to keep the franchise in Sacramento last May.  However, a new state-of-the-art stadium is what will really keep them there.

“Yes, if we get an arena built that meets our specifications, yes we will stay [long-term],” Galvin Maloof said. “Absolutely. We have to have an NBA, state-of-the-art arena. It doesn’t have to have marble everywhere, but it has to be an NBA type of arena. It has to be approved by the NBA and also by us, but obviously it doesn’t have to be a Taj Mahal. We know the [economic] market that we’re in, but it’d have to be an NBA-approved arena and approved by us and our specifications.” (Sports Illustrated)

Johnson’s task force has until next March to complete a financial plan for the arena.  Ultimately, it is up to the Maloofs to make the decision on whether or not the Kings will stay but EB-5 could be part of the solution.

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Fickle Fernandez Shows That NBA Should Protect Its Players

Show me the Euros.

The question back in July was “do I stay or do I go?” for the Mavericks’ then recently acquired Rudy Fernandez.  Well, seems as though the Spaniard has finally decided.

Back on July 5, Fernandez announced that he would not be signing a contract overseas and instead opted to wait out for the lockout, possibly earn a considerably lesser amount of money in the US and have a chance to help the Dallas Mavericks defend their national title.

Well, seems as though someone has changed his mind.

A day after his Spanish team defeated team France for their second European championship title in a row, Fernandez has announced that he will be signing a contract with Spain’s Real Madrid in a move that goes completely against what he stated over a month and a half ago.

The deal was reported late last week by CBSSports.com but was just confirmed today.

The contract allows Fernandez to play for the Mavericks for the duration of his contract, which ends after the 2011-12 season.  He would then jump on plane and return to Spain where his professional career began with DKV Joventut under a contract set to end in 2014.  However, there is an NBA opt-out clause that allows him to end his current contract in Dallas, which is something he has said he wanted to do.

Essentially, this is a long-term, big-money deal for the former Portland Trailblazer.  Real Madrid’s original offer was a six-year deal for about $4.4 million per year.  He would earn around $26 million over six years, a deal that would dwarf the $2 million he is set to earn next season with a qualifying offer of $3.2 million.

As the world turns for Rudy, it’s hard to judge what he will do next but it does bring up an issue that has yet to be addressed.  Currently, the NBA players and teams are not allowed to communicate at all during this strike.  Free agency has been essentially nonexistent, summer league has been cancelled and if labor talks don’t make headway soon, training camps will be called off as well.  However, international play has continued with several NBA players taking part in order to stay in shape.  Additionally, several independent leagues have popped up this offseason for players to take part in street-ball tournaments.

However, several players from Deron Williams to Fernandez have made the bold decision to take their talents overseas.  So while NBA franchises cannot talk with their players, why are these foreign teams allowed to make deals with players currently under NBA contracts?  Essentially, they are stealing athletes from the NBA to compete in what everyone can frankly consider lesser leagues.  Yes, these athletes can make more money in foreign markets that don’t adhere to salary caps but does winning a championship in Europe even hold a candle to hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a US city?

No, it doesn’t.

The NBA needs to create a provision that would protect its most valuable asset: its players.  This “rule” would freeze all contracts in the NBA thus forbidding any players under NBA contracts to contact their NBA team or foreign teams if another lockout ensued.  Despite the fact that they are on strike, they are still under contracts here in the United States that should be respected.  These foreign teams are turning these tournaments into tryouts while NBA owners have to stay at home.  It leaves their franchise players vulnerable to making essentially the poor decision of signing overseas contracts.

This is further proven by Fernandez whose deal wasn’t even confirmed by Real Madrid until a day after the Euro Championship.  Was it a tournament or merely a scouting camp?  Under current NBA rules, we would say the latter.

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Kobe Bryant Playing in Manila

A crowd at Araneta Coliseum got a little more than they paid for on Wednesday night as the Black Mamba decided to lace up his sneakers.

On his tour of the Philippines, Kobe Bryant made a stop in Manila for what was supposed to be a night off for him.  Instead, he took the court and played along side the Nike UAAP Stars against Smart Gilas.  The younger UAAP players ultimately lost 33-24 in the 10-minute game but according to Kobe, they could have won if there was more time on the clock.

Due to the lockout, the Lakers are not allowed to have any contact with Bryant but this video should show them that he is recovering well from his surgery.  He played a fairly conservative game but he looks good on that knee after undergoing a relatively new surgery last month in Germany.

Kobe has done several Nike Tours but has never actually taken the court and played.  Later this month, he and several other NBA stars such as Derrick Rose and Kevin Durant are set to play two separate exhibition games in Manila one being against Smart Gilas who is gearing up for a bid to the 2012 Olympics in London.

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