starbury=iago

6 03 2009

This post on the Onion is hilarious – Stephon Marbury as a Shakespearian villain. As long as it’s not like a prophecy or anything. Because that would be bad, very bad.

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saying “yes” to Starbury

4 03 2009

Way back at the beginning of the season I wrote a post titled: Just say “No!” to Starbury. I argued that Stephon Marbury has a caustic personality and that I hoped my teams wouldn’t sign him. And of course last week the Celtics finally signed him. My feelings are ambivalent on this one. I still believe he will be a problematic personality and ultimately will harm this team in some way but I have a sneaking suspicion that it won’t be this year. Next year he’ll be a problem, without a doubt but this year he’ll be looking to redeem himself somewhat.

Besides, the Celtics really need him. Mikki Moore, who they also signed, isn’t the answer – he’s a garbage time player, too erratic to really help. Starbury though, he can be a game changer. He can score, distribute, hit the big shot and play defence when necessary. We don’t need him to score 20 a game, we need him to score 8 or 9 at a clutch moment. We can’t always expect Allen and Pierce to do it all. I also think he can play with Rondo and take the pressure off him as a playmaker. Look at the way Maurice Williams and Delonte West play together for the Cavs – both can be playmakers and scorers and they take the pressure off LeBron to do everything.

But all this is based on potential. Stephon Marbury has the potential to redeem himself and be known as the guy who helped the Celtics win back-to-back championships. But he needs to want it. He needs to be the perfect citizen. I’m hoping he does.





A tale of 3 Kevins

20 12 2008

Has there been a more stupid executive in the NBA in the last decade or so than Kevin McHale?

I loved the Minnesota Timberwolves. They were the team that I first connected to when I started to seriously follow the NBA. I’m ashamed to say that one of the main reasons was the logo and name (I went through a phase when I loved anything to do with wolves) but I also loved Kevin Garnett. Even as a rookie he swiftly became one of my favourites.

With Tom Gugliotta and Stephon Marbury the Timberwolves looked set to dominate the NBA for a decade but then Starbury fled and it all fell rather flat. McHale did manage to obtain Terrell Brandon to soften the blow of Starbury’s disappearance but the Timberwolves were no longer a team on the rise.

With KG the T-wolves were always competitive but McHale’s ineptitude meant he was never surrounded by the quality supporting talent needed to be a contender. It was exacerbated with the dreadful Joe Smith saga where they illegally tried to sign him only to be revealed and lose several years worth of draft picks. It wasn’t till they acquired Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell, two quality All Star level talents that the Timberwolves blossomed. It proved that if you put the right players around him, Garnett could carry the team deep into the playoffs.

Then it all kinda fell apart. The team failed to make the playoffs for the next couple of years and finally KG was traded to the Celtics where he promptly won a championship. Well done Kevin McHale! You built a champion but for the wrong team. Doh!

The case against McHale gets more damning when you consider his lottery picks. He lucked out with KG, he will be in the Hall of Fame but he has had little other success.

In 2006 they traded #6 pick Brandon Roy for #7 pick Randy Foye. Foye has been a solid NBA player but I doubt whether he will ever be a star. He’s a tweener, neither point nor shooting guard while Roy is now an All Star and the centrepiece of the upstart Portland Trail Blazers.

Last year they drafted Corey Brewer when players like Al Thornton, Thaddeus Young, Rodney Stuckey, Rudy Fernandez and Carl Landry were still available. All of those players would have been better fits.

The true travesty was in this year’s draft where they drafted rising superstar OJ Mayo and traded him to the Memphis Grizzlies for Kevin Love. I wrote at the time:

Word of advice don’t trade away an athletic potential superstar for a big white stiff, just not a good idea 

and I guess I have never written more prophetic words. OJ Mayo currently heads David Thorpe’s Rookie Rankings while Love is languishing at #11. I’ll be delighted if Love proves me wrong but I doubt it.

McHale’s stewardship has been a tragedy. Can you imagine if Roy was playing alongside Garnett? The two of them would most probably have the Timberwolves back in the playoff hunt. Of course then McHale would undoubtedly have stuffed the whole thing up.





New York Knicks Season Preview

1 10 2008

My NBA Atlantic Division preview continues with the New York Knicks:

New York Knicks 

2007-08 Standings 23 – 59, 14th Eastern Conference 

2008-09 Predicted Record 36 – 46, 4th Atlantic Division, 10th Eastern Conference 

Projected Starting Five:  Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Quentin Richardson, Jamal Crawford, Chris Duhon 

Sixth Man:  David Lee 

David Lee is one of the few New York Knick "keepers"

The dynamic play of David Lee

Close your eyes. Think of the biggest laughing stock in the NBA. Then think of the most chaotic team in the NBA. Now think of a team that Mike D’Antoni, the mastermind of the Phoenix Suns style of 7 seconds or less basketball, would want to coach.  Open your eyes. I bet you were thinking of the New York Knicks for the first two but D’Antoni? And the Knicks? It seems shocking to me but that’s exactly what happened. 

But what does it mean? Many of the players on the Knicks roster seem incompatible with D’Antoni’s offensive style: Eddy Curry, Zach Randolph, Stephon Marbury (at time of writing he is still a Knick) all are the opposite of what D’Antoni had in Phoenix.

There are players that do fit with D’Antoni’s style – Chris Duhon brings steady point guard play, Quentin Richardson thrived under D’Antoni in Phoenix, Jamal Crawford is a solid, sometimes spectacular shooting guard, David Lee seems born for a running style while rookie Danilo Gallinari has the potential to be a point forward like Boris Diaw was.

Over the next couple of years (if not months) there will be changes to this roster. Like their neighbours the New Jersey Nets, the Knicks are salivating at the chance of luring LeBron James to the Big Apple. The key in the next couple of years will be losing the dead weight, such as Curry and Randolph while making themselves attractive to King James and other quality free agents.

The road to redemption and respectability is a long one and while I think the Knicks won’t make the playoffs this year, they will reclaim some of the respect of the fans.

Coach:

Mike D’Antoni proved himself an offensive genius in Phoenix but he will have to work a bit harder in New York. For one thing he has no Steve Nash or Leandro Barbosa or Amare Stoudemire to work with, instead he has Chris Duhon and others. Probably his best bit of coaching will be playing the deadweight like Curry and Randolph enough that they can “showcase” their skills so they can get rid of them. The other imperative is getting rid of the cancer formerly known as Starbury. Stephon Marbury needs to go – buy him out already.

Bench:

On paper the Knicks have a solid bench – David Lee, Danilo Gallinari, Nate Robinson, Wilson Chandler are all players who can play but then on paper the Knicks with Curry and Randolph up front, look like title contenders. Perhaps D’Antoni would be best served to employ a “squad” system like Memphis used a few years ago.

Star Player:

It’s hard to pick a star from this team. Jamal Crawford seems closest to this but I’m reluctant to rate him as a star, or even as an All Star level talent. Perhaps we should call this a team of anti stars?

Team MVP:

David Lee is the most valuable Knick, he is also probably the only Knick that every other team wants. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Lee traded away in a package with one or other of the anti-stars such as Curry or Randolph.

Final Prognosis

The arrival of D’Antoni signals that the Knicks are serious about turning things around and not just quick fix solutions such as trading like a fantasy GM for other teams’ unwanted players (and contracts). But they need to clear the deadweight. The team will improve but not enough to make the playoffs.

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.