Category Archives: Players

Profiles players of note and their contributions to the sport.

Dirk Nowitzki remaining with Mavericks as expected

DirkDirk Nowitzki was never a free agent in the traditional sense. The Mavericks’ future Hall of Famer stated time and again that he had every intention of resigning with the only team he has played for. Now, it appears there is an agreement in place that will keep Nowitzki in Dallas.

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported on Thursday afternoon that the Mavericks and Nowitzki verbally came to terms on a three-year deal worth approximately $30 million. The third year of the deal is reported to be a player option meaning that Nowitzki could return to free agency in the summer of 2016. Dirk will also retain his no-trade clause.

It was reported that Nowitzki would hold off on inking any deal with Dallas until the team sat down with Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was in Dallas on Wednesday and met with representatives of the team at Mark Cuban’s house after dinner at Nick and Sam’s in Uptown.

With the meeting over, the Mavericks wrapped up negotiations with Nowitzki. As expected, he took a considerable discount so that the team would have financial flexibility to pursue other free agents this summer.

Anthony has been Dallas’ main free agent target since he opted out of his contract with the New York Knicks. The Mavericks are also rumored to be interested in Houston’s Chandler Parsons, Cleveland’s Luol Deng, and a bevy of other players. Dallas must also decide which of their own free agents to re-sign.

Even though he wasn’t going anywhere, Nowitzki was the most important player to sign this summer. His cap hold on the team hovered around $26 million. It had to come off the books to free up money to improve the roster.

With the rest of the summer shrouded in uncertainty, the Mavericks and their fans can continue to rely on Dirk. And why shouldn’t they? He has yet to disappoint.

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LeBron James speaks to the media before game against the Mavericks

Please excuse my sideways video, I am not a YouTube expert.

 

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Pistons send Tony Mitchell to D-League

The Detroit Pistons have sent Tony Mitchell, a favorite of this blog, down to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Developmental League. Mitchell was selected by the Pistons in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft with the 37th overall pick out of the University of North Texas. Peyton Siva, another second round pick by Detroit, was also reassigned to the D-League with Mitchell.

Moving Mitchell to the D-League was an inevitability.  He appeared in only 10 games, totaling 37 minutes on the court. His per 36 minutes numbers of 10.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, one assist, one steal, 1.9 blocks, and 1.9 turnovers are promising. However, with Detroit’s frontcourt composed of Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith, there are few minutes to be distributed to a 6’8″ rookie.

Mitchell should hone his skills in the D-League as he will see more playing time. Unfortunately, the move down could hurt his chances of appearing in the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All Star Weekend. None of the participants have been named yet, but Mitchell’s dunking ability warrants notice and has appeared in various Vines throughout the season.

There is a dunk contest in the D-League but it doesn’t draw a large audience. The NBA’s dunk contest has been lackluster in recent years and needs revitalization. It needs Tony Mitchell.

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Metta World Peace is Metta Man

Apparently, I am a little late on seeing this, but today as I was avoiding anything that Bill Simmons wrote on Grantland, I stumbled upon this little gem about Metta World Peace. It chronicles the life that World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, has been living since his Lakers were eliminated from the playoffs. Since Ron-Ron is a Beef favorite this was a must read for me.

Now, I know he is going to be in a Lifetime movie, did the weather in Vancouver, and that his mixtape rap game is on point but this video caught my eye:

Wow. Pure gold.

What many may forget, due to wanting to paint World Peace in a less than favorable light, is that he won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award in 2011. He won the award do to his work in promoting awareness for mental health issues, especially among children. Yes, World Peace has actually done remarkable work in this field. Hense the video’s message.

However, the content of the video is, well, just so Artest (or possibly Tim and Eric). I’m not quite sure what a curling stone, skateboard, New York City skyline, Larry King, what looks to be a toy helicopter from Radio Shack, a Mini Cooper with hydraulics, and dunking have to do with raising awareness of mental health  but I am not Metta Man. Therefore, how could I make the correlation.

It’s good to see that World Peace, even with his active offseason, is continuing his campaign to help children, adults, and veterans who struggle with their mental issues. He’s not all bad, people.

One last note: I couldn’t help but notice that Metta Man’s costume is strikingly similar to that of Meteor Man’s. That was easily the most distracting part of the ad for me. Heck, the similarities abound between the two. That can’t be a coincidence.

Dear sweet movie green-lighters, please let this be an omen that World Peace will star in a remake of Meteor Man. If Colin Farrell can star in a remake of Total Recall then we must have a remake of Meteor Man. Hear me, Hollywood! It will totally be better than Thunderstruck.

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Rajon Rondo is beyond this Earth

Boldly going

Doyle Rader: Rajon Rondo has been the most refreshing and entertaining player in the NBA during the playoffs. This no better illustrated than just before game four of the Eastern Conference Finals a friend, who doesn’t like basketball, called me up and asked who that player on the Celtics he should watch is. I told him it was Rondo. The Rondo Lore is growing by the minute.

Against the Heat, Rondo has been putting on a clinic with his passing, fakes, jukes, and even his jump shot. Though he does prefer to score at the rim as indicated by his Game 4 shot chart.

Game 4

He does it all for the Celtics without getting tired. He has played 681 minutes in the playoffs thus far, more than any other Celtic. Paul Pierce is second but is 20 minutes behind (fouling out doesn’t help).

All of these factors have helped grow the legend of Rondo, who before now was frequently mentioned in just about every trade rumor coming out of Boston. Trading Rondo is a silly notion as he is by far the most valuable asset the team has going forward, especially with the breaking up of the Pierce-Ray AllenKevin Garnett core looming on the horizon.

Rondo is the Celtics’ Garry Kasparov. Much as been made about his unpredictability being one of his greatest assets but to accept that is to ignore the fact that Rondo is entirely plodding and methodical in his approach to the game. He is one step, if not more, ahead of the competition directing his players like pieces on a board. Rondo vehemently waved off Pierce, who was looking for a transition three in Game 4, and directed him to cut to the bucket. The result was an easy lay-in. Rondo’s court vision has just been superb.

Travis Huse: Rondo’s a different breed of NBA player, but his is a style I envision taking over the league within the next few seasons. He’s like Fat Lever, but with Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd‘s triple-double capabilities, all hopped up on bath salts and Cap’n Crunch. But you’re positively on point with the Kasparov reference (Did you catch Ray Allen’s chess quote last night?), the little guy is so manipulative with his head-games.

Remember when he tried to sneak  into the Heat’s huddle last season? It was in the middle of a huge Celtics run in the 3rd quarter, both as a small display of bravado and as a way to keep the Heat thinking about him. What at the time seemed like a silly move to pester another team is now tactical warfare. Rondo had a triple-double that game, and the Celtics won by three.

DR: To quote the kids these days, “Rondo gives no fucks.” He is out there to play basketball and to win. A perfect example is what he said to Doris Burke at halftime when he flat called out the Heat for constantly bitching to the refs about calls. This is the type of mentality that every coach can appreciate when your team is battling for the right to the NBA Finals. Miami is Rondo’s enemy, why should he show them anything but contempt. He does not respect them right now, nor should he.

Also along the line of giving no fucks, have you seen what he has been wearing in the post game pressers? Not only is his game on some next level future shit, but is wardrobe fluctuates from the 1980s to the 24th century.

TH: He’s good for the league in his disdain. The “super-team” mentality of the Heat takes away from the real reason people love to watch sports: to hate another city with a burning passion. When players group together as players, marketing personal brands over team identity, the whole thing seems to matter less. It is much cheaper to watch a pick-up game down at the park if you’re looking for a good-natured buddy game of basketball.

Playing with fire, drive, and even hatred is what makes you a champion, and the sports culture in Boston thrives best under those conditions (I think Boston as a whole survives based on a constant undertone of street fighting, to be honest). The team has 17 trophies to show for it. Pat Riley exhibits this trait, but the rest of the Heat organization is lacking in that regard. Erik Spoelstra can’t really invoke that championship fire in this squad, and the squad itself isn’t built for it. I simply do not believe that they are playing for the sake of basketball. Rondo is, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win, and he will do it in ways never seen before.

DR: With Boston, it’s all about narrative. It’s who they are. They are never favorites and have been written off more than once. Their quest for recognition and glory is all that matters with their storied past. I for one am happy that Rondo is the protagonist of this particular chapter.

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A Song about Gustavo Ayon

Mexico is a land of tradition and home to a proud people. Yet, when it comes to the sports world, Mexico has not had many sons and daughters to cheer  for outside of their club soccer teams. Now, however, it looks as though a new folk hero is emerging.

Gustavo Ayon is not the first Mexican born citizen to play in the NBA. Horacio Llamas and Eduardo Najera got there first. Najera is still playing but his best days are behind him, though no matter where he plays his is a fan favorite for his energy and hustle. Therefore it is now Ayon who is now cultivating a sizable fanbase.

In his first season in the NBA, with the New Orleans Hornets, Ayon posted per 36 minutes averages of 10.6 points, 8.8 rebounds (which is beyond modest), 2.4 assists, 1.8 steals, and 1.5 blocks. He started 24 games for the Hornets and in those games averaged 6.5 points, 5.7 boards, 1.6 dimes, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 blocks. Modest numbers at best, but Ayon was one of the bright spots on the team due to his hustle on the floor. To go along with those numbers he also shot 51.5 percent on field goals.

He numbers aren’t going to blow anyone away at this point in his career but if Mexico had a vote for Rookie of the Year it would have gone to Ayon. In fact, he might even be worthy of someone penning a song about him. Luckily, someone already has.

I don’t speak Spanish, but from what I gather, the people of Tepic, Mexico are proud of him. As they should be.

Hat tip to HoopsHype for finding the song.

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Dwight Howard and the Malfunctioning Magic

Puppet master

There are several “earmuffs” moments in this piece so please think twice about reading it out loud to small children.

The past week has been even more of a ludicrous scene of Tom Fuckery than the Orlando Magic have grown accustomed to this season. Dwight Howard has subjected his team, the only one he has ever played for, to a myriad of split decisions followed by reversals, retractions, and second guessing. It is enough to drive any organization mad. Despite this perpetual distraction, the Magic plodded along, and despite Howard’s injury late in the season, still managed to make the playoffs.

They didn’t make it very far, though.

Since then all Hell has broken loose and this week has been the zenith of stupidity.

Orlando cleaned house as the team fired head coach Stan Van Gundy and ‘politely’ asked general manager Otis Smith to step down. It was apparent that Van Gundy would not last with the Magic after reporting to the media that he was aware that Howard had asked Rich DeVos, the owner of the Magic, to fire him. It made for quite an awkward moment. Van Gundy’s best line is that he doesn’t like bullshit. Howard certainly created enough of that this season. Nonetheless, Howard had his wish granted. If the Magic Kingdom is good for anything besides humidity it’s granting wishes.

As for Smith, it was clear that he needed to go. During his tenure in Orlando he did his best Danny Ferry impression by surrounding Howard with mediocre, or beyond their prime players. When he did have legitimate players on the roster (read: Marcin Gortat and Brandon Bass) those players did not fit into Van Gundy’s system and were essentially condemned to the bench. The expelling of Van Gundy and Smith had to be a joint package.

With two of Dwight’s largest nuisances removed, one would think that he would now be more complacent to stay in Orlando, but as Chris Sheridan reports, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As he stated long ago, Howard still wants out of Orlando and unlike before, it looks as though the Magic are ready to field offers for their star center.

Keeping in mind that they have an unhappy, or rather just stubborn, player to move, the Magic also need to replace their head coach and GM. This is where it gets idiotic.

For about 24 hours, Shaquille O’Neal, the Big Aristotle, was rumored to be in line to interview for the vacancy at GM. Yes, Shaq. Simply put: what a fucking joke! Luckily for everyone, it was, or at least it sort of was. It didn’t take long for everyone to question the move and speculate, correctly, that the rumor originated in Shaq’s camp only to bolster his image. There was no possible way that Shaq would ever actually be the GM of the Magic as he and Howard have had a tit-for-tat relationship since Howard entered the league. On top of that, Shaq’s comprehension of the new collective bargaining agreement is probably on par with a first grader’s ability to under stand quantum theory. Thank goodness this story ended when it did before it really caught any real traction.

And we thought Dwight’s drama was too much.

As for a replacement head coach, none other than Jerry Sloan was mentioned as a possible replacement. Sloan coached the Utah Jazz since fish ventured onto land for the first time. He has an impressive coaching resume built mostly with the likes of John Stockton and Karl Malone leading the Jazz to two consecutive Finals appearances in 1997 and ’98.

However, his departure from Utah, midseason, two years ago is the result of a tainted relationship with Deron Williams, who was the team’s All Star point guard. Spats with players are nothing new for Sloan, who rigidly coaches the flex offense. Because of this, it would not seem like a good match for Howard, who, it has been rumored, wants to have his say in how the Magic conduct their business on and off the court. Sloan simply would not put up with Howard’s shit.

Howard won’t get his way in Orlando. He has already tarnished and tainted his reputation with the organization and it is long past due for him to move on. He is still under contract for the 2012-13 season but this relationship is over. He will not sign an extension nor should he be offered one by the organization. Trading him is the only option. If it were up to Howard he would leave the Magic high and dry with his scorched Earth tactics but Orlando has the option to get plenty in return for one of the league’s most dominant big men. Once the draft lottery is complete, Howard will be shopped around. Hopefully, where ever he ends up, he will not be as big a headache as he has been for the Magic.

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