Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Maybe We Can Finally Get a Bit Of Lin-Closure

Look, I'm not a Jeremy Lin fan.  That doesn't mean I hate him or that watching him have one of those out-of-the-blue stretches last season wasn't unreal.  I just don't believe in him being a guy that really ... matters. 

I'm not on the Money May bandwagon of Lin blowing up because he is Asian.  I will say that his star rose much, much higher because it happened in New York City.  If he did this in, say Houston, then it wouldn't be as big a deal as it became.  Again, not to say it didn't deserve a lot of attention.  I just don't think Lin is a big time player.

That being said, I don't fault Lin for going for the money during free agency.  In sports, I can rarely ever blame someone for getting paid.  Your earning potential is much smaller than many other people and we're talking big dollars.  If Lin wanted that Houston money like that, all the power to him.

But don't turn around and cry that you wished you could still be a Knick.  They wanted you and were willing to pay a lot to keep you around.  The Knicks were cool with the deal he was going to originally sign with the Rockets (New York could match any deal Lin got) but the "poison pill" added to the third and final year of the deal was just too much for the Knicks to handle.

That's another opinion piece for another time.

Lin though is sending signals that he wanted to be a Knick all along.  Nice, but don't sign an offer sheet somewhere else and then get upset when you actually have to honor it.  Houston can't tell you, "uh, we thought the Knicks were going to match you so we really don't want to pay you this amount", now can they?  If you want to be a Knick and they were going to compensate you in a way you could deal with ... then stop screwing around and sign with the Knicks.

Trust me, I get it.  New York told him to go out and see what he could get and they'll probably match it.  Lin went out and found the best deal he could and expected that the Knicks would match.  However, that "poison pill" added at the end was something that killed the deal.  You signed that knowing that it could be a sticking point.  Houston offered it to you knowing that the Knicks may think twice about matching and keeping the Rockets from looking like leverage than an actual destination for you.  That's why there is a poison pill in the first place.

Lin will go to Houston and do fine.  He will get a great shot to shine in Kevin McHale's system that got Kyle Lowry and Goran Dragic some shine last season.  Since Houston is about as talented as the banged up Knicks were when Lin exploded on the scene (remember, Carmelo Anthony was hurt and Amare Stoudemire was out of the lineup), Lin should be able to get his shots.  Other than people keeping tabs on him and the occassional big outing, I doubt ESPN will be on Lin that much once the sparkle of the new 2012-2013 season wears off.  I also doubt the Knicks will miss Lin that much on the court.  While Raymond Felton may not be as dynamic a player, he may fit in better with an offense that caters to Melo.  Should be a win-win.

But the NYC media (which for some reason is pushing the Brooklyn Nets all over us even though they've got the same crappy team back from last year ... and Joe Johnson and a "healthy" Brook Lopez.  How is that exactly a title team?) will tie us in to what Lin does for the season -- and probably beyond.  Again, I hope the best for him since it is a great story.  But some stories just aren't as good when you keep on reading.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Dwight Howard Deal: Dan Gilbert Is Losing His Fan Support

Two summers ago, many people felt bad for Dan Gilbert.  Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, just watched LeBron James bolt his team to form a SuperTeam in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  While Gilbert did get all high and mighty with his chatter after The Decision, a lot of people could understand that Gilbert was really disappointed in how things happened.

That was the Summer Of 2010.

Last summer, the Summer of 2011, the NBA was shut down due to labor strife.  The lockout cut into the season and nearly shut down the season.  One of the sticking point among owners was all these SuperTeams starting to form (remember that the prior season saw Carmelo Anthony force his way to the Knicks and Deron Williams was traded to the Nets).  Owners were tired of players demanding to not only be dealt but where they'd be traded to.

Fast forward to this summer.  All the NBA offseason talk has been around Dwight Howard and where he could end up.  We all know that Howard has set his list to the Nets and no one else.  The Nets, who resigned Deron Williams and traded for Joe Johnson, would love to form their own Big Three with Howard in the fold.  The problem is that it is a logistical nightmare to get this deal made without getting another team to help out.

Enter the Cavaliers.

Reports are that the Cavs are willing to be a third team in the deal and would be essentially doing nothing but getting Kris Humphries as a one-year rental and maybe and late first round pick.  It makes barely any sense for Cleveland to do this since they'd be helping mold yet another Big Three team in the East. 

Then you remember that it is Dan Gilbert that is allowing that. 

Yep the same Gilbert that was so adamant that the Lakers couldn't trade for Chris Paul last December that Commish Stern controversially vetoed the deal.  The same Gilbert who became the go-to voice of the small market owner that houses a team in an undesirable market. The same Dan Gilbert who promised his Cavs would win a title before LeBron's new Heat squad would ... and watched the Heat go to two Finals in two years and winning a ring. 

Why would Gilbert then become the third wheel in a deal that would send the best center in the NBA to a Brooklyn Nets team that is trying to step up to the glamour franchise table?  And all he's getting is a draft pick in the late 20s and Kim Kardashian's ex-husband?

Unless the Cavs are shown to get a high draft pick via a 4th team in any deal, then Gilbert has a lot of questions to answer when the media honks gets to him. 

Maybe Gilbert will promise another Cavs title before the Nets win one. 

Let's Realign The NBA

I love what the NHL is going to do ... eventually.  They are abandoning the six division format and going back to four divisions -- which they will label "conferences".  Then, they are going way back and having the first two rounds of the postseason being division (errr, "conference") matchups. 

The NHL used to do this back before the southern expansion boom in the early 1990s.  It gave us outstandingly chippy postseason series since these guys get sick of each other very quickly. 

I wish the NBA would do the same thing.

The NBA has the same amount of teams (30) as the NHL.  Right now, the NBA's six division format is a complete joke since conference teams play each other nearly equally anyway.  While the postseason is okay as it is, the lack of a strong care for the divisions make them meaningless.

So do one of two things: kill the divisions or do what the NHL is doing.

The first realignment is very simple.  Just eliminate the divisions and just have two 15-team conferences.  In reality, that's what it is anyway so it would just make it easier for everyone.

EASTERN:  Atlanta, Boston, Brooklyn, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Miami, Milwaukee, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington

WESTERN:  Dallas, Denver, Golden State, Houston, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Memphis, Minnesota, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, Utah


Or we can go the other way.  I like things that are even ... so the NBA should just contract Charlotte and Sacramento.  Ahhhhhh, but that's not happening so the NBA just expands to, say, Seattle and Kansas City (I'd imagine that the Kings will leave Sacramento for Las Vegas or Anaheim pretty soon).

ATLANTIC:  Boston, Brooklyn, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Toronto, Washington

CENTRAL:  Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Indiana, Detroit, Milwaukee, Minnesota

MIDWEST:  Dallas, Denver, Houston, Kansas City, Memphis, New Orleans, Oklahoma City, San Antonio

PACIFIC:  Golden State, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle, Utah

I love this.  As you can see, I put the expansion Seattle SuperSonics in the Pacific and the new Kansas City franchise in the Midwest.  I also moved the Minnesota Timberwolves to the Central Division due to the fact that they are closer to the Bucks and Bulls than they are to any franchise in the Western Conference.  Kansas City makes sense with Oklahoma City, Memphis and the Texas teams.  Look at a map and it makes perfect sense.

Now the playoffs.  The top four teams in each division makes the playoff and would play each other in the first four rounds.  Let's use the 2011-2012 standings to see how this would shake out (we'll imagine that the expansion Seattle and Kansas City franchises wouldn't have qualified).

ATLANTIC:  1-Miami vs 4-New York, 2-Boston vs 3-Orlando
CENTRAL: 1-Chicago vs 4-Milwaukee, 2-Indiana vs 3-Atlanta

MIDWEST:  1-San Antonio vs 4-Denver, 2-Oklahoma City vs 3-Memphis
PACIFIC: 1-LA Lakers vs 4-Phoenix, 2-LA Clippers vs 3-Utah

The only difference in the Eastern Conference would be that the Bucks made it in and not the Sixers.  In the West, the Suns jump in and the Mavericks are knocked out.