Monday, July 30, 2007

David Stern must be happy with KG

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For the past week or two, the sports media and the blogosphere has been blowing up with reports, unsubstantiated rumours and rampant speculation about a certian NBA referee's alleged gambling on NBA games and links to the mob. David Stern's NBA office has no doubt been in complete damage control mode, on a level never seen by Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson.

The media has done nothing but fuel the flames of speculation. "Will this mean the end of the NBA as we know it?... Will fans be able to trust the results of games ever again? ... Was Mark Cuban right after all?"

It's clear that this referee-gambling saga has been blown out of all proportion. The facts as they currently appear are that ONE referee may have attempted to influence the result of a number of games. The last time I checked, this did not mean the downfall of the world or the end of integrity in sports. Bad things happen. The NBA will get past this.

Meanwhile, news suddenly hits the horizon of renewed talks between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves to bring Kevin Garnett to Boston. You can bet (illegal as it is) that this news brought a small smile to David Stern's face as suddenly a story had emerged to shadow all others. At least for a couple of days anyway...

I hope he sent Danny Ainge and Kevin McHale a bottle of something nice.

KG to Boston : titletown? Don't count on it...

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The Boston Globe has published varying reports today indicating that the Celtics and Timberwolves will indeed move Kevin Garnett to Boston in a multi-player deal. The lastest version of the trade, being reported by the Globe involves (now wait for it...) Gerald Green, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson, Theo Ratliff, Sebastian Telfair and two first round draft picks to the Wolves for Garnett.
In short, the Celtics will give up every promising player they have remaining on their roster (with the possible exception of Kendrick Perkins and Leon Powe) in order to gain one of the best all-round talents of the past ten years in the NBA.
When Danny Ainge decided to make the draft day trade which brought Ray Allen to Boston, he had to have one thing in mind: win now. With the win-now philosophy comes the necessity to trade young promising players for those that can get the job done right now. Jefferson, Gomes and Green are not yet in a position to contribute to a playoff team. They have a long way to go to reach their lofty potentials. Adding KG to a core of players that includes two other stars in Paul Pierce and Ray Allen makes for a promising team, with little in the way of excuses.
The big question is however, can this team make NBA championship-type noises with this team? I think not.
Certainly, this team will make short work of most teams in the weak Atlantic Division. After finishing last in the division last season with an ugly 24-58 record, Boston will no doubt push past perennially in disarray New York, depleted Philadelphia, stagnant New Jersey and will only have problems with the young and rising Toronto Raptors.
However the threesome of Garnett-Allen-Pierce ("GAP") can not win games all by themselves. Unfortunately for the Celtics, basketball is played with five players on court (just ask LeBron James) and even if Boston does make it out of the East, they still must face either San Antonio (just ask LeBron James), Phoenix or Dallas in the Finals. All of these teams are stacked with their own groups of individual talents, as well as well-tuned supporting casts.
Are GAP better than Parker-Ginobili-Duncan, Nash-Marion-Stoudemire, Nowitzki-Howard-Terry? They're clearly better than that last trio, but as for the other groups, who have played together for years, the debate gets a lot more complicated.
I appreciate what Ainge has done in making the decision to throw all of the green eggs into the basket marked "Right Now", but I will forever question why teams like Boston and New York refuse to rebuild in the tradional way, rely on young talent to develop and make wise draft choices along the way. Hey, it's worked for the Trail Blazers.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Blazers pre-Summer League workouts

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Summer League kicks off tonight for the Blazers vs Boston. Unfortunately no Bassy Telfair to be seen, but I don't think that is anyone's main concern. The big man Greg Oden will be out there, stuffy nose and all, and all eyes will be in his direction. The chemistry between LaMarcus Aldridge and Oden, as well as to a lesser extent between Oden and Brandon Roy, will be key to this competition.

Of course, a sideline to all of this is whether we see a maturation of Martell Webster and Sergio Rodriguez, who will be the starting guards. The nifty passing of Finnish sensation Petteri Koponen will be on display, as will the interior abilities of Josh McRoberts and Chris Ellis (who seems to have impressed Greg Oden - see below). Stefano Mancinelli is starting at the three spot, which should be interesting -- I have to admit to not knowing much about the Italian small forward.

Great video here of the Blazers working out in preparation for the Summer League in Las Vegas.

Notable Quotes:

Jack (on Oden): He's really big.
Sergio (on Oden): He's really big.
Aldridge (on Oden): He's got a much better sense of humour than some guys we've had here in the past...

Hmmm... take that last quote to refer to whoever you may want to guess at. I wonder if it's a recent departee?

Yi ain't no bust

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I'm just watching online updates of the China vs Memphis Summer League game and I couldn't help but think... No wonder the Milwaukee Bucks are so keen on securing the services of Yi Jianlian, no matter the circumstances.

He's only had a short while to prove himself in the NBA Summer League, but already he's proven that he's on target to average a triple double!

Check it out:

vs DAL: 14pts 6PF 5 TO in only 14 mins action!
vs MEM: 20pts 7PF 7 TO in 22 mins so far (game in progress)

That's impressive stuff. Now I know why he can call his own shots regarding which city he plays in.