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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Old School Pic of the Week 7/26

For likely the first time since the 1996 NBA Finals, Seattle was center of the basketball universe as it played host to this weekend's H206 charity basketball exhibition. The showcase matched Seattle-bred players led by Jamal Crawford, Aaron Brooks, Martell Webster against "The League" team featuring Michael Beasley, Dorrell Wright, and Nolan Smith, among others.

Though it provided only a fraction of the pleasure of an NBA team, H206 displayed Seattle's desire for basketball at the highest level. If this is what it's going to take to get NBA athletes playing in the Emerald City once again we need to have lockouts more often.

Payton: "Man, I still can't believe there's no NBA team in Seattle!!"
Kemp: "Simmer down, bud. We're gonna get through this"

Monday, July 25, 2011

Jam of the Week 7/25

Last week Oklahoma City Thunder big man, Serge Ibaka, was granted Spanish citizenship. His allegiance, competitively speaking, will no longer lie with his native Congo but to Royal Spain. As soon as the OKC fan favorite Ibaka, "swears loyalty to the Spanish crown and constitution," he will be playing alongside fellow NBA international players Pau Gasol, Rucky Rubio, Marc Gasol, Rudy Fernandez and Jose Calderon in International competition. Look out USA in the next FIBA World Championship. From Sevilla to Madrid, the people of Spain must be shouting, "¡Viva la Serge!"


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Finding Homes for 2011-2012 Free Agent Game-Breakers

As the NBA lockout continues to loom over the heads of basketball fans like a Saturday morning tequila hangover, the anticipation of a potential season keeps us optimists speculating. I for one, am excited to see the array of transactions that are inevitably going to take place in a post, "The Decision," basketball world. Seeing players find new homes and how these players effect the dynamic of a team, for better or for worse, is to me one of the most intriguing things about NBA basketball. Look at how the NBA has shaped around the movement of LeBron and Bosh to Miami. As you can imagine, while the days of the lockout have contined to pass, my imagination has been running wild. Many game-breaking type of players are up for grabs in this year's free agent market, here's where I believe these game-breaking guys are going to take their proverbial talents next season.

Jason Richardson, SG Orlando Magic:

2011-2012 Team: Chicago Bulls

J-Rich has established himself as a reputable and memorable player in NBA basketball. Nobody will forgot his performances in dunk contests he competed in, he was key in the Golden State Warriors magical run in the 2007 Playoffs, and he's a team player any team would love starting on their squad. Richardson can provide the most help to Chicago, whose only weak link last season was at the 2 spot, juggling between aging Keith Bogans and Ronnie "What's Offense?" Brewer. Not that these guys aren't good players in their own right, but in the end, the scoring load was too much for MVP Derrick Rose down the stretch. Many speculate the Bulls will trade for Memphis sharpshooter O.J Mayo, but I think they have too many options in the Free Agent market to give up any essential pieces already in place. Richardson, though aging, has a few good years left and makes this team an even more legitimate contender for the Title.

Andrei Kirilenko, SF Utah Jazz

2011-2012 Team: New Jersey Nets

When healthy, Kirilenko provides some of the best defense at 3 position in the NBA. The Jazz seem to be moving in a new direction and are going to cut ties with AK47, thus ending the Williams-Kirilenko-Boozer era. Kirlenko is a savvy vet that could help an array of teams on both ends of the floor. Rumor had it, that when star guard Deron Williams was shipped to the New Jersey Nets, Nets owner/gazillionaire Mikhail Prokhorov tried to get the Jazz to include fellow Russian and friend, Andrei Kirilenko, in the deal. Kirilenko won't head overseas like many have speculated, because he is now an American citizen and seems to want maintain his comfortable lifestyle in the States. He'll head to the Nets to reunite with former Jazz teammate Deron Williams and try to spy on corporate elites on Wall Street for Russia with fellow spy Prokhorov begin the new era for a struggling New Jersey Nets franchise.

Nene Hilario, PF/C Denver Nuggets:

2011-2012 Team: New Orleans Hornets

Nene reportedly opted out of his player option with the Denver Nuggets, and now that Carmelo has skipped town, the Nuggets are a whole new team and Nene will look to part with the new kids on the block. In an attempt to keep superstar Chris Paul in the Big Easy, New Orleans will go get Nene and will concoct a frontcourt that Paul will be more than happy to play with for some time, Nene and Emeka Okafor. This signing might keep Chris Paul from joining the speculative big three in New York. This frontcourt makes the Hornets competative against any Western Conference team, especially the huge frontcourt of the Los Angeles Lakers.

J.R. Smith, SG Denver Nuggets:

2011-2012 Team: New Jersey Nets

This is the season where the Nets will start to flex their new Russian fortune. Deron Williams is in his contract season next year, and to stay competitive in a newly forming point guard league, the Nets know they need to try to entice him to stick around. The Nets are thin at pretty much every position besides Point Guard and Center. But with J.R. smith out of Carmelo Anthony's shadow in Denver he's going to want to prove that he is a star, and he is guarenteed a starting role with this squad. The Nets can offer J.R. an overpaying contract, and it also doesn't hurt that he is a New Jersey native. J.R.'s jaw-dropping plays will make Nets' Co-Owner Jay-Z change his famous line to, "if Jeezy's payin' LeBron, I'm paying J.R. Smith."

Tyson Chandler, C Dallas Mavericks:

2011-2012 Team: Dallas Mavericks

Chandler works hard, plays D and likes to win. 2010-2011 NBA Champs, Need I say more?

Rip Hamilton, SG Detroit Pistons:

2011-2012 Team: Utah Jazz

Rip had a huge falling out with the Pistons' front office and coaching staff last season. His time in Detroit is over and everybody knows it. The question is, "does Rip still have it?" As we know, he can be a big time player when he actually cares, but his age does raise some questions. I think that teams will figure it's worth a roll of the dice on the masked avenger. It makes sense for Rip and the Jazz. The Jazz are very young across the board and are weak at the 2, Rip provides veteran experience and toughness as well as scoring at shooting guard. The Jazz will also have some cash to spend as the max contract of Andre Kirilenko, 16 Million, is now off of their backs. The Jazz now have the talent to be a solid team in the West in the next 4 or 5 years and if Rip thinks he will stay in the NBA that long, he could be a perfect part of the equation.

Jamal Crawford SG, Atlanta Hawks:

2011-2012 Team: Atlanta Hawks

The 11-year vet has found a nice little niche in the ATL. He's found playing time, personal accolades and most importantly, success. The Hawks have been consistently playoff contenders since the Joe Johnson-Josh Smith-Jamal Crawford era. Crawford is no spring chicken. His situation is optimal in Atlanta for a few more years, if he is willing to take a cut in salary to bring in some younger talent as Josh Smith looks to be headed towards a trade. Crawford is likely to stay with the Hawks if a reasonable salary can be agreed upon. If Crawford can't be financially appeased by the Hawks, I would speculate he would join Steve Nash in Phoenix as Vince Carter is probably departing.

Tayshaun Prince, SF Detroit Pistons:

2011-2012 Team: Los Angeles Clippers

The latest/hottest rumor is that Prince will head to D-Town and help bolster the defense of the reigning champs. While I can see this as a realistic scenario, my inclination is to have Prince head back to his hometown of LA. Prince is Straight Outta' Compton and I would imagine jump at the oppurtunity of playing for some hometown fans. The Clips don't see either Jamario Moon or Ryan Gomes as their SF of the future and I think the intriguing lineup of: PG Mo Williams, SG Eric Gordon, SF Tayshaun Prince, PF Blake Griffin, C Chris Kaman/DeAndre Jordan, is going to be too good for Prince to pass up. The long versatile player is going to have a homecoming comprable to Kanye (is it blasphemous to have NWA and Kanye West in the same article blurb?). If prince heads back to LA, look for the Clips to be playoff contenders next season, you heard it here first.

Court Adjourned.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Old School Pic of the Week 7/18

Times are tough for NBA players. The gentlemen of the association simply want to play the sport they love, yet the lockout stands in their way. Though the current work stoppage is far from an ideal situation, it also presents a unique opportunity for athletes to pursue ventures they may have otherwise overlooked. 

In this week's photo, Karl Malone is shown living up to his nickname "The Mailman" by delivering basketballs to the residents of Salt Lake City. If this lockout must persist, let us hope that more players expand their horizons with new endeavors. Should the NBA fail to provide me with a 2011-2012 season, the very least I expect is a reality show featuring Chris "The Birdman" Andersen learning to tend pigeons or Brian "The Custodian" Cardinal struggling with the rigors of mopping hallways. Is that so much to ask?

Court adjourned.

Jam of the Week 7/18

Feeling locked out like your mom forget to put the spare key back? To cheer you up, here's some dunknasty action for this week. Seeing as we are locked out of the NBA, here is a stuff from the 2010-2011 NCAA season courtesy of Louisville's Kyle Kuric. Apparently, white men can jump. BONUS: Classic Bob Knight commentary in the video, post-dunk.

"...he got hit with the 'T'."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Whoa Nellie!

by Connor Witt

The morning of July 16, 2011 began like every other this month, waking up to the realization that I am still a victim of the NBA lockout. And as an individual who relies on basketball both for my personal entertainment and writing fodder, the work stoppage has been doubly painful for me.

To fulfill the emptiness in my heart where NBA action resided not so long ago, I’ve been relegated to watching whatever ancient footage NBATV chooses to air. Today, my lone option was a 1985 regular season matchup between the Celtics and Knicks. But as hard as I try to enjoy the little NBA activity I am granted access to, I find it pretty difficult to get excited about grainy footage of game with a predetermined outcome featuring Kevin McHale’s awkward shoulders and a cameo from Carl Banks.

Fortunately Minnesota's delusional GM David Kahn stepped in to shake up the bleak landscape of the NBA world.

No, Kahn wasn't burning four first-round picks on guards, accusing the NBA of rigging the lottery, or proclaiming Darko Milicic to be "manna from heaven" on this day. His most recent exploit was revealing that Don Nelson may be in line to succeed Kurt Rambis as head coach.

It is as if Kahn is trying to make America forget his blunders of old by continually breeding worse and worse ideas. After all, his choice words at the NBA Draft Lottery this year silenced the criticism about signing two backup point guards (Ramon Sessions and Luke Ridnour) to matching $16 million contracts in consecutive years. Perhaps, the next step in the nonsensical mind of David Kahn is to implement Nellie Ball in an attempt to erase the memory of the 132 losses over the past two seasons.

However -- as is the case with most of David Kahn's basketball related ideas, visions, epiphanies, or whatever you'd like to call them -- there are a number of reasons why this would be the worst idea ever.

1. The T-Wolves gave up 107.7 points per game last season. Keep in mind, that was under a coach that supposedly emphasized defense to some extent. Even if Nelson can get Minnesota's array of young talent to put up 120 points per night, they're going to be allowing in the neighborhood of 140 (I hope I'm exaggerating, but you never know with the Wolves.)

2. Three years ago Anthony Randolph tore up the Las Vegas Summer League and even received an invite to the USA National Team mini-camp. Don Nelson rewarded him by relegating Randolph to the darkest depths of Nellie's doghouse then eventually insisting he seek a trade out of Golden State. It should be disastrous interesting to see how Nelson/Randolph, Part II works out in Minnesota.

3. If the league has to bar Don Nelson from drinking beer at post-game press conferences, he's probably not going to be the guiding light to point Michael Beasley in the right direction. Yes, I know Beasley's often publicized troubles have come as a result of marijuana, not alcohol, but still couldn't David Kahn find one coach out there with a little bit better track record?

This potential move has implications beyond simply who calls Minnesota's Xs and Os. As a basketball fan, I don't know if I can handle another year of the constant media circus surrounding Miami's big three. If Nelson is to become the next T-Wolves head coach, I can only the hope Minnesota's dysfunctional three ring circus of a basketball team can steal some headlines from The Heatles.

I don't know if I would go so far as to say America needs more lunatic GMs at the helm of their franchises, but as it stands David Kahn is doing a fine job of keeping me entertained during these most stagnant of times.

All signs point to this being a lengthy lockout, and I anxiously await the next trick up Kahn's sleeve.

Court adjourned.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Old School Pic of the Week 7/11

The rumor around town is that Shaquille O'Neal will be joining Charles Barkley and the gang as the newest member of TNT's broadcast team. Though I had originally begged for ESPN to hire Shaq as Van Gundy's new counterpart for ESPN games, I certainly am not disappointed with the way things turned out. The combo of Sir Charles and The Big (almost any noun in the English dictionary is applicable) immediately has the potential to be considered one of the all-time great dynamic duos right along with Jordan & Pippen, Batman & Robin, and Peanut Butter & Jelly...

though I am uncertain where Shaq and Cindy Crawford rank on the long list of history's great tandems.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Old School Pic of the Week 7/4

On Independence Day, we pay homage to this nation's forefathers for allowing America to become what it is today. Those men were true innovators, and it is only fitting that Court of Appeals' July 4th Edition of the old school pic would be an equally revolutionary figure. As you celebrate America's birth, take a moment to commemorate the birth of the beautiful sport of basketball and its founder, James Naismith.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

NBA Draft Report: Cutting the Malarkey

Report cards have never been a favorite of mine. Many of the marks I've received in the past have required me to justify the letter grade to my parents with some contrived and bumbling explanation.

NBA Draft grades, in my opinion, are quite similar. Though I'd be assigning the grades rather than receiving them, doling out scores to teams for their draft day moves would require me to pass immediate judgment on players that may need years to develop and others that I know nothing about (Chukwudiebere Maduabum?!?)

With that said, I marked this event on my calendar months in advance; it's simply against my nature not to fully scrutinize the draft. So I just cut out all the malarkey with the grades, predictions, and irrelevant selections and got down to some good old-fashioned speculating.

Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers had a pretty awful season in year 1 P.D. (Post-Decision) and despite making two of the top four picks, that is not likely to change drastically in 2011-2012 whenever NBA basketball resumes. Kyrie Irving was the safe pick at #1 and should be a solid piece to build around in the future. With the #4 pick the Cavs got their guy, Tristan Thompson, though the pick was widely considered a reach especially considering Thompson plays the same position as Cleveland's best young player, J.J. Hickson.

The Cavs addressed the frontcourt situation by shipping Hickson to Sacramento in return for Omri Casspi and the Rockets' 2012 first round pick. Still, a lineup of Irving, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison, and Anderson Varejao doesn't exactly strike fear in the heart of opponents. But, you've got to start somewhere I suppose. See you in the lottery next year.

Minnesota Timberwolves
Boneheaded draft night moves have come to define David Kahn's tenure as GM in Minnesota. On draft night, Kahn's kept things interesting by completing a whirlwind of trades but, in his defense, managed not to ruin the entire franchise in the process. The Wolves began with the 2nd and 20th picks, but by the end of the draft they had sent out Jonny Flynn (Kahn's #6 selection and the second of four guards taken merely two years ago) while adding Brad Miller, Derrick Williams, Malcolm Lee, and two future second rounders.

 If that sounds too good to be true for the infamous Kahn, it is. His obligatory blunder came as he bought the #57 pick to select Tanguay Ngombo out of Qatar. The only problem: Ngombo falsely stated his age as 21, when in fact he is 26 years old, thus making him too old to be eligible for the draft. A simple look at Qatar's national team roster would have confirmed his true age, but I suppose that would have been too much to ask. Oops!

Utah Jazz
Many experts are calling the Jazz the biggest winners in the draft, and I fully agree. Kanter doesn't necessarily fill a need but his selection provides a cheaper alternative to Millsap and Jefferson, which gives the Jazz the flexibility to trade one or the other for an established veteran. As for their #12 pick, Alec Burks gives Utah an athletic scorer whose skill set will complement CJ Miles and Gordon Hayward. I won't make too many bold predictions for this year's draft, but I do believe that Alec Burks will eventually become one of the elite players in the 2011 class. You heard it here first.

Washington Wizards
We'll hope this #6 overall pick nicknamed the Dunking Ninja turns out better than the last #6 pick and fellow Wizard known as the Dunking Ninja. (In fairness to Yi, I don't know if he's ever been called the Dunking Ninja, but he does bear a stronger resemblance to every ninja most ninjas than Vesely, so it's only logical.)

Charlotte Bobcats
Michael Jordan doesn't have the best track record when it comes to draft picks, so I'm hesitant to give him the benefit of the doubt on the trade up to get Bismack Biyombo. Biyombo averaged 6 points per game in the second division of the Spanish league, so I feel my skepticism is warranted. Yes, I am aware he recorded a triple-double at the Nike Hoops Summit, but the last African player (Mouhamed Saer Sene four years ago) with no offensive game whatsoever, that recorded double digit blocks in the Hoop Summit, and was selected in the lottery, is now playing for BCM Gravelines Dunkerque in France. Who? My point exactly.

Detroit Pistons
The Piston's were happy to have Brandon Knight fall to them at #8, but it was very apparent from his demeanor that he did not feel the same way about landing in Detroit. On the bright side, maybe he'll use that anger as motivation against opponents. At very least his tenure with the Pistons should be more productive than that of Darko Milicic.

Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings landed the almighty Jimmer with the tenth selection, thus pairing him with Tyreke Evans in the backcourt. Though the two provide a sizable scoring threat, clearly there will not be enough shots available for Fredette and Evans to both hoist their desired amount. For the sake of the Kings, let's hope the new Collective Bargaining Agreement stipulates that the game be played with more than one ball. DeMarcus Cousins has been known to get quite aggravated even when he is getting touches, so I'd hate to see what materializes in Sacramento once their guards neglect to get him the ball.

Golden State Warriors
The Warriors added Klay Thompson at #11, which would seem to signal that Monta Ellis is on the way out, though the team continues to deny they are shopping him. However, this could be an acknowledgment by the Warriors that they are incapable of playing defense and will instead focusing on trying to win games by allowing Ellis, Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Dorrell Wright rip as many three pointers as they can manage in 48 minutes. 

Denver Nuggets
As far as my research shows, none of the players the Nuggets added on draft night have any tattoos. It remains to be seen how this may effect their team chemistry.

Miami Heat
You may have heard that the Heat added the best player in Cleveland last summer yet still fell to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals. Pat Riley's move to put them over the top? Add the next best player in Cleveland, Norris Cole. No word in yet on whether Cole will show up to play in the fourth quarter of tight games.

Court adjourned.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Three Guys Playing Horse

Well, the lockout is officially here and we have no choice but to turn elsewhere for our hoops fix. As with all my other major life decisions, I turn to Samuel L. Jackson for guidance, and behold: