Monday, June 30, 2014

NBA Notes; Draft & Opt Out Thoughts

Why will the Miami Heat will stay together? Salary Cap Circumvention

It made zero sense for Udonis Haslem (34) and Dwyane Wade (32) to opt-out of their contracts. Haslem, coming off his worst season as a professional opted out of a $4.6 million dollar player option. Wade, clearly on the decline and unable to stay healthy after 11 grueling professional seasons, opted out of a contract which would have paid him $41.8 million dollars over two seasons. Joining teammates Chris Bosh and LeBron James (both of whom have already opted out), Haslem and Wade have now created a record setting $55-million dollars in salary cap space. Really?!? Wade, Haslem, LeBron, and Bosh have already
agreed in principle to return to the Heat and with their agents have most likely already worked out the money. How do we know this? The Heat traded for Connecticut champion guard Shabazz Napier during Thursday nights draft, LeBron's request - the worst kept secret during draft week. Then Chris Bosh got on a plane and took off with his family on vacation, not something you're doing days before you become a free agent and need to be scheduling visits with other teams. I'd love for Adam Silver to look into an agreement which has Wade and Haslem opting out of favorable contracts for the good of the team, when they've already acquired multiple NBA Championships and have their retirement(s) looming sooner than later. See Joe Smith and the Minnesota Timberwolves if you're looking for precedent. When Haslem becomes a consultant to the Miami Heat after his retirement, I'd like to see what his salary looks like then.
It could be worse, you could be a Philadelphia 76ers fan.

Last years lottery selection, 6'11 Kentucky big-man Nerlens Noel, and this years lottery selection, 7'0 Kansas big-man Joel Embid, could potentially be one of the biggest, most dominant front courts we've seen in recent years, if we actually get to ever see it. After sitting out the entire season in 2013-2014 with a torn ACL, Noel should be making his 'Sixers debut this season. Embid on the other hand is a completely different story. Injuries to both his foot and back should keep him out for what would be his entire rookie season of 2014-2015. The 'Sixers don't get desirable free agents to come to Philly, they just finished a season with the second-worst record in the entire league, and were possibly shopping their reigning rookie of the year, guard Michael Carter-Williams. I get looking toward the next season, or a player in the upcoming NBA Draft, or a year when you have more cap-space than other teams, but which one is it? For a team that doesn't acquire many landmark free-agents, and spent an additional high-first round pick on a player who is under contract in Turkey for another three years, I really don't understand what Philadelphia is doing, other than doing absolutely nothing, extremely well.

Derrick Rose doesn't want to recruit, I'm cool with it.

At what point in his NBA career did you all look at Carmelo Anthony and say, his ownership hasn't brought in anyone to support him to win an NBA Championship? When Derrick Rose isn't rushing into the facility to meet with Carmelo and his people, when Derrick Rose decides he would rather NOT shoot a text to 'Melo to gage his interest in joining the Bulls, and when Derrick Rose doesn't feel it is his responsibility to recruit 'Melo specifically, I kind of agree. Yes, Carmelo Anthony's specific type of skills definitely give the Chicago Bulls a better shot at winning in the Eastern Conference. Sorry, but Carmelo Anthony has made some money in this league, he has played in the situation in New York where he thought was a better fit for him than in Denver, and now he has the ability to find a place where he's happiest and what is the best situation for him, so no I don't feel like Derrick Rose should have to run out and beg him to play with him. If Carmelo Anthony wants to win in this league, if Carmelo wants to play with top talent in this league, if Carmelo wants to play with a team that is committed and has a coach that is equally committed, then he should be begging Chicago to let him join their team, not the other way around. Remember who Derrick Rose is, while he has been injured for the last two seasons, he's still an alpha-dog, take charge, team leader, he's not someone who thinks he needs Carmelo Anthony to win, he someone he thinks he needs to be healthy to win.

Lastly, (2) Things that have really angered me this weekend.

1. Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks - Rather than remembering you were almost fired last winter and should be grateful that the Brooklyn Nets gave you an opportunity to coach in the NBA with no coaching experience, you looked around and saw Fisher and Kerr getting paid and decided to try and force the hand of Brooklyn ownership by requesting a title promotion when arguably you were one of the worst five coaches in the NBA just a season ago. Didn't work, Brooklyn was ready to part ways with you, and you went to people you knew and worked out a deal which would have you coaching in Milwaukee. The Bucks fired Larry Drew after publicly embarrassing him by going to work out the Kidd deal prior to actually letting him go. Here's what is going to happen, the Bucks will continue to be bad, they're too young right now to bail out Jason Kidd's poor coaching, and both Kerr and Fisher would be better coaches and deserved the money they got. There is a reason I've never been a Jason Kidd fan, because he's a jerk.

2. I want Kevin Love in a big market. Come on Minnesota, make one of these deals, send the guy to Boston. Completely for selfish reasons, because I didn't even want the C's to make a 1st round pick, I just want Kevin Love to play with Rondo and help find a third piece. Look, the NBA would be much better served with the Lakers and Celtics being competitive. Like the Spurs, but let's face it, 90% of us cheering for San Antonio were cheering for LeBron to lose more than anything. My friends kept telling me after the draft, 'Lynchy, this is a really good draft for the Celtics, and everyone is saying it.' However, i would much rather have some established player, in Boston, playing with an outstanding point guard in Rajon Rondo. Is that too much to ask for?!

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Out Of Hibernation; NFL Is King

How perfect is the NFL 'machine'? No one does it better. The NFL Draft pulls down better television ratings than some World Series games, better than NBA playoff games (in the same time slot), and I'm sure it'd even give the series finale of Friends or Seinfeld a run for its' money. Why? Because you can't write the story lines better!

In some years, the fact that the New England Patriots selected the heir apparent to their 3x Super Bowl winning quarterback in the second round, would be THE storyline as the three day draft festivities were winding down. In some years, the Minnesota Vikings trading back into the first round to select former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who at one time was considered a guaranteed top-five selection, would be enough to lead the news cycle. However, in 2014 - those story lines don't even sniff the first few thoughts about this NFL Draft.

Get after it . .

It's hard to believe there has ever been a louder buzz coming out of Radio City, which has hosted the likes of Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, and Ella Fitzgerald, than when the most magnetic star in the game was anxiously watching himself get passed over again and again in the first round. I'm sure that current Packers Super Bowl winning quarterback and 24th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Aaron Rodgers, knew what that felt like. There isn't enough half smiles, fake table conversation, and bottles of water to swig on to make that time go by faster.But when 2x Heisman finalist Johnny Manziel finally got the phone call that he was headed to Berea, Ohio as the Cleveland Browns had pulled off a trade to get into the first round and select him, the NFL Draft exploded! Say what you will about Manziel's size, his background as the grandson of an East Texas oil baron, or his arrogant persona which reached new heights this past weekend, the fact remains that 'Johnny Football' hysteria is going to breath life into Northeast Ohio, life which hasn't been the epicenter of the sport universe since its' native son Lebron so famously took his talents to South Beach.

Bottom line; The Browns need to be seriously given props to what they accomplished over the past weekend. It would have been very easy for them to add Manziel at #4, but they had a plan, stuck to it, and executed to perfection. Traded the #4 pick for the #9 pick, while snatching a 1st round pick in the 2015 NFL draft through Buffalo. Complete steal. Cleveland wanted Justin Gilbert to place across the field from Joe Haden and needed to find a way to move back to take him, they did that while adding what is most likely going to be a top 10-15 selection a year from now, maybe better. Then they sold their #26 pick they had landed by trading Trent Richardson last season for the Eagles #22nd pick and landed the quarterback they had as their #1 quarterback on their 'big board.' Find a team that had a plan which was executed better than theirs? Bravo.

How is the Manziel story line topped? The co-SEC defensive player of the year and first openly gay NFL draft prospect, Missouri's Michael Sam, was drafted #249th by the St. Louis Rams. What the kid did, during the draft process none the less, was nothing short of brave. Now comes the difficult part of life in the NFL, he's going to have to go out there and make that roster. St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the most creative coordinators in the NFL and is superb at identifying talent. Michael Sam is really going to have to prove that he is talented enough to play on one of youngest and most explosive defenses in the NFL, that's not an easy task for anyone, let alone a player who is going to have more distractions from the media storm that will descend upon Rams training camp.

Bottom line; Look, he was one of the best defensive players in college football's most elite conference last season. A conference that put 48 additional players into the draft this year. He isn't a bad football player or a non-deserving football player. I just hope he'll be able to compartmentalize the media aspect of this and show every doubter that he deserves a spot on that roster, and they'll be other doubters that we won't hear from but will have their opinions.

I used to really, really, look forward to the Oakland Raiders draft selections. From Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain, Maryland wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, to LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell, I was always excited for some drama and unpredictability. But you aren't getting that from Oakland anymore, or at least it seems that way. The Raiders went out and added some real value this off-season bringing in Antonio Smith from Houston, Justin Tuck from New York, and Lamar Woodley from Pittsburgh, all successful players in very good defensive systems. Then through the draft they brought in linebacker Khalil Mack who is amongst the most talented players in the entire draft process. It's clear they've addressed their defensive needs, and are moving away from errors of the past.

Bottom line: We have got to give Oakland a ton of credit, their second round pick Fresno state quarterback David Carr has a huge upside but unlike other franchises they don't need to play him right away because they brought in veteran Matt Schaub to do just that and take the pressure off of Carr as a starter. If Oakland continues to improve and make moves like this each and every draft, you can bet they'll make that AFC West very interesting.

The draft is a huge lottery, you never know what is going to pan out, but it is in fact another example of why the NFL is king when it comes to entertainment. No secondary league survives the competition, they continue to bring in fresh new bodies every year from one of the most unfair feeder systems around, and from the draft to mini-camps to training camp, the NFL dominates even in the off-season. There is a reason why we refer to World Series as baseball's Super Bowl, or maybe we should start doing that . .

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