Thursday, December 8, 2011

Off To The Races! NBA Offseason Madness Day 1

Well, it seems like the much-promised, lockout-shortened, whirlwind NBA off-season is certainly coming to fruition, with teams scrambling about like shoppers on Christmas Eve buying up the last-remaining undented goods. Just to recap the day:

* Players & owners vote (separately) on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement
* Jason Kapono to Lakers
* Shane Battier to Heat
* Tracy McGrady to Hawks
* Caron Butler visits with Spurs and tweets happy thoughts
* Tyson Chandler close to signing with the Knicks
* Tayshaun Prince stays in Detroit
* Greg Oden stays in Portland
* Mario Chalmers undecided in Miami
and finally,
* Eddy join the Heat!!!

And all this before 4pm today! You get the feeling this just the tip of the iceberg. Mind you, all of these are just reported from various 'sources', some more iron-clad than others. For example, Shane Battier himself tweeted his intentions, meanwhile the sources say Chandler is a 98% lock, so take some of these with a bit of baited breath-holding. But naturally, that won't stop this Martian from expounding a little on all of these moves.

First and foremost, the possibility of Tyson Chandler signing with the Knicks??? I just wet myself. The legitimate defense-first center that Amare' Stoudemire has needed to play beside for roughly 100% of his NBA-career? (Give or take 0.0%) A guy to wipe the glass and clean up (some of) Carmelo's and Amare's defensive lapses? Somebody pinch me. I literally haven't been this joyed about a Knick signing or trade since 1997. For the uninitiated, that was the off-season of Larry Johnson, Allan Houston (the young, confident, and still-driving- to-the- basket version), Chris Childs, et. al. (tangent: it's impossible to convince me that this team wouldn't have at least gone 7 games with the Bulls were it not for Charlie Ward and P.J. Brown becoming impromptu tango partners on the court. The Knicks were utterly destroying the Heat till that point.) Seriously, I know everyone is giddy about the possibility of adding Chris Paul, but please think for a moment about what Tyson did for the Mavericks. This would be big. Huge even. Somebody pinch me again, harder this time. I don't seem to be waking up.

Shane Battier to the Heat. This is sort of like a Mike Miller do- over signing. I was admittedly concerned (as a Knick fan) about what Miller would bring to the Heat, and thought that was a real good deal (for them), but unfortunately, injuries derailed him, badly. I believe that Heat fans never got to see the player their team signed, and that people who railed on him were and are wholly misguided. Injuries happen, and they make you a shell of yourself until they heal fully. But now, Battier? A career 39% 3-pt shooter who rebounds and defends (something I nor anyone has ever accused Mike Miller of doing)? So the See-Me-Three now have someone to help them expend less defensive energy and to hit spot-up open shots to boot? Damn...I mean, good signing. Potentially of course.

Speaking of spot-up shooters, Jason Kapono to the Lakers. LA gets an outside shooter to open up the floor, the one thing they've desperately needed the past year or more. Of course, seeing as how they've been rumoured to trying to trade half their team, maybe they think they need a lot more than that. But Kapono should help their shooting similar to how Battier (Miller) is (was) thought to help the Miami Hea...wait a second, didn't Miami already *have* Kapono, the shooter they needed? If only they'd found a way to keep him during the great Injustice League SuperFriends union fire sale.

While we're on the Heat, we might as well talk about their other 'signings', starting with one Eddy Curry. Hmm. Now, it's probably been 2 years since I've seen the guy, and he's been working out with the Heat for, what, over a year now? So they must see something, but...what? A no-defending, low-rebounding, poor-passing, anti-run-and-gun big guy, to seat next to Chris Bosh? Besides using him as an offensive black hole, how do the Heat view him as an asset to their team? Is he gonna get boards and outlet to start the Wade/James break? Nope. Ward off slashers to the hoop? Nuh uh, not gonna happen. No amount of weight loss is turning Eddy into a rebounder and defender at this late stage. Perhaps they see him as a second-stringer, to provide offense when the Heat 3 (or at least 2) are on the bench exercising their much-ballyhooed talent of blowing kisses to the crowd. Perhaps; not so far-fetched. Beyond that? Hmmm.

Mario Chalmers works out with the Heat, but is still undecided on where he'll sign. Riiight, because teams all across the NBA are falling all over themselves for his services. This is news simply because it's the Miami Heat, which paradoxically makes it news-worthy one really cares. And while we're on resignees that no one else really wants...

Tayshaun Prince to Detroit, and Greg Oden to Portland. Kind of a shame, with both of these guys, more than anything. Prince was such a prototypical championship-component-type guy, a long defender, decent shooter...and now he just seems to be resigned to playing out his days in Detroit, happy with the one ring (and the many years of contention too I imagine). I'd have thought he'd draw some interest from a contender or two out there...or maybe he's not that interested in uprooting and moving. As for Oden? Since the day he shattered his kneecap going *up* for a rebound (not landing, but taking off -- I mean, of the many times you've jumped to get that plastic bowl off the top cabinet shelf, how often has your knee simply exploded on take-off ?), I've been convinced that his legs are just not made for the sport of basketball -- much like Yao Ming. Nothing short of a double-leg transplant is really gonna change that, and it's really a shame, because they're both high-talent and, by all accounts, good-natured guys whose bodies may just not be made for the sport. I very sincerely hope I am completely and utterly wrong.

Finally, that brings us to T-Mac and Caron Butler. McGrady definitely showed he still has value over the past couple years in NY and Detroit. Sadly not the world-beater he once was, but an effective scorer and passer nonetheless. What will his signing mean? For the Hawks, it must mean Jamal Crawford is even more goner than the gone he already was. For the NBA landscape? I think it's been proven through and through that a team led by Joe Johnson, Al Horford, and Josh Smith will always be good...and not much more than that. That's their rock-solid, bulletproof-glass ceiling: good. (And teams that are merely good teams don't win rings.) As for Caron Butler, love his game, not loving this prospective move. Tim Duncan's best NBA days seem to be moving further into the rearview by the day, and once he's gone, what are the long-term prospects for this team? Will Butler over an amnestied Richard Jefferson be the one ingredient to put them over the top from last year? My mind says not really; he's not likely to fix their lack of defense by his lonesome. (It's weird to mention "lack of defense" and "Spurs" in the same sentence, but that thoroughly describes them last year). So if it's not a ring in the short-term, or title-contention in the long-run...I think Caron can do better.

Finally, the most humourous thing to hear over the past couple days in the NBA were the reports that had the Lakers trading Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom for Chris Paul, and then trading Andrew Bynum and some combo of Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol and others for Dwight Howard. Admittedly, I haven't checked the rulebook yet, but I'm pretty sure that NBA rules restrict players to being a member of only one team at a time.

On the MLB baseball front, the Greater Los Angeles Area Disneyland Industries Incorporated Limited All Rights Reserved Angels of Anaheim have signed both Pujols and C.J. Wilson? Ahh hell. Oh well, they're the Texas Rangers' problem for right now. Wait, that may be a good thing...I think. Could be worse; you could be a Mets fan watching your team file for Section-8 housing while the formerly-middling Downtown Miami Marlins sign half of last year's All-Star team.

Till next time...

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