- The Season's Over -

Folks, Empty the Bench is Gone Fishin’

July 3, 2008

ETB is on a brief vacation

The NBA Finals are in the books, with Boston taking home the 2007-08 NBA Championship. The NBA Draft has come and gone, with Kevin McHale’s annual bonehead decision in the books. As primarily an NBA and NFL blog, that means ETB gets a brief respite before ramping up our NFL and fantasy football coverage. We’ll take this opportunity to hang up the ole’ Gone Fishin’ sign on our porch, and be doing just that (or as close as you can get in Brooklyn).

If there’s breaking news we may still be checking in to opine on it, but the regular content will be on hiatus. And besides:

NBA teams and players must wait for the salary cap to be set before trades and most free agent signings can commence. Teams may negotiate with free agents beginning July 1, but they have to wait until the moratorium ends before signing a contract. This season it ends on July 8th, so the signing and trading can begin at 12.01 am, July 9th.

We’ll be back sometime after then with all kinds of summer shite:

- Updates on NBA Free Agency Comings, Goings, and Trades
- NFL Gossip and Heresay
- Interviews with NBA and NFL Bloggers
- 2008 NFL Fantasy Football Guides and Rankings
- Our Fantasy Football Mock Draft and Sleepers
- A look at the NFL’s 2008 Offseason Police Blotter
- And of Course, Our Award-Winning* Weekly Fantasy Football Content

In the meantime, here’s a few things to help bide your time:

- Read our NBA free agency updates.

-Read ETB’s Greatest Hits of the 2007/08 NBA Season (not including playoffs)

- Learn how to make whole-wheat bread

- Relive all the titillating moments of ETB’s 2007 NFL football coverage.

- Think twice before making pot brownies

- Rock out

- And finally, enjoy the first episode of “Skunked with Brownie Troop 666,” the new fishing show hosted by Mr. Mickey Melchiondo (Ween, Moistboyz). More info, episodes, and Brownie Troop 666 merchandise can be found at the Official Brownie Troop Fishing Show website.

*May not actually be true

3 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Jul. 3, 2008 at 12:24pm in Administrative

Sizing Up the James Posey Sweepstakes

July 2, 2008

James Posey has found himself in demand as a free agentYou know it’s a weak free-agent class when James Posey, most recently of the Boston Celtics, is one of the most in-demand players still available.

After his gritty contributions to the Celtics’ championship run this season, however, there’s no denying the sizable impact Posey can make for teams gunning for the NBA crown. The 31-year-old knocks down clutch triples, comes up with loose balls, has averaged at least 1 steal/per over the life of his nine-year career, and perhaps most importantly can man-up on defense with some of the NBA’s elite scorers from the wing.

Oh, he can be a dirty player at times alright, and I don’t especially care for his recklessness when he’s running down fast breaks, but as ABC’s Mark Jackson would say, “the man gets the job done.”

James Posey Photo Credit: Icon SMI

He did it with the 2006 Miami Heat—perhaps ETB’s least favorite NBA Champion of all time—and he did it again this year with the Celtics. That track record has a number of contenders lining up to speak with him about accepting their respective mid-level exceptions; that list could include the Celtics, Pistons, Rockets, and Cavaliers amongst others. Based on contracts already awarded this month to mediocre players with limited skill sets like C Desagna Diop (5 years, $30 million!), you can bet Posey will be looking for some security as well.

Quick thoughts on a few possible landing destinations for Posey:

Boston Celtics

GM Danny Ainge denies it, but rumor is that the Celtics have reached out to ex-Los Angeles Clipper Corey Maggette (22.1 points, 5.6 rebounds, 9.7 free-throw attempts/per in 2007-08) about taking a paycut for a chance at helping the Celtics repeat. If that’s true—and of course if Maggette bites—Posey won’t be back. I personally think that’s the only scenario in which he leaves, however, given Boston’s success, his familiarity with the system, and his guaranteed role and minutes off the bench.

Detroit Pistons

It’s no secret that the Pistons have struck out repeatedly in their efforts to settle on a consistent backup at small forward behind ironman Tayshaun Prince. I’ve bemoaned this seemingly never-ending search before, and unfortunately it seems last season’s backup, Jarvis Hayes, is the next addition to the “One and Done Club,” an exclusive pack of vagabonds and castoffs that now includes Hayes, Carlos Delfino, Darvin Ham, and Maurice Evans. Clearly, they need some stability there.

Posey’s scrappy, tough-guy defense would fit in well with the Pistons, who’ll likely place even more of an emphasis on solid team defense under new head coach Michael Curry. There have been rumors of a possible deal between the Pistons and Denver Nuggets that could potentially include Carmelo Anthony and Prince swapping jerseys, which would make Posey an even more important addition as the backup to the defensively challenged Anthony.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Posey just personifies Eastern Conference defense, doesn’t he? If the Cavs didn’t have a glaring hole behind LeBron James off the bench, you might think GM Danny Ferry was interested in signing Posey in large part just so James didn’t have to deal with him. The Cavaliers remain an ugly offensive team outside of The Best Thing That Ever Happened or Ever Will Happen To Them, but they are a somewhat surprisingly elite squad at the other end; Posey would, obviously, only strengthen them further.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets were the West’s version of lockdown team defense last season, finishing second in the conference behind only the San Antonio Dullards Spurs in allowing 92 points per game; they were second in the NBA in opposing team’s field-goal percentage at 43.3%. But with Carl Landry’s status up in the air, however, and Chuck Hayes kind of “meh” in our book, the Rockets could certainly use a defensive player of Posey’s talents behind Shane Battier. Not sure whether having two guys of extremely similar skill sets there would be a good or a bad thing, but Posey would again fit in here.

The Los Angeles Lakers (perhaps, but not likely) and New Orleans Hornets (maybe, but wouldn’t that stunt second-year forward Julian Wright’s development some?) are other possibilities.

Related: James Posey, Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jul. 2, 2008 at 9:00pm in NBA

The Dallas Mavericks Quietly Abscond with Former Dunk Champ Gerald Green

July 2, 2008

Gerald Green Has Skills[Editor's note: Before embarking on this love fest for a player who has accomplished nothing at the NBA level, it should be noted that Andrew is an unabashed Gerald Green fanboy.]

Every year there are several shrewd decisions in free agency on low-risk players that end up paying huge dividends. Each year there are also a number of guys who receive far more than they can possibly contribute, and their bloated contracts become salary-cap anchors (*ahem*, Gilbert Arenas).

On the first day of free agency the Dallas Mavericks signed one of each. According to the Dallas Morning news the Mavs have an agreement with ultra-athletic SG/SF Gerald “Birthday Cake” Green on a one-year deal. That would be the shrewd decision. Later in the day is was reported by ESPN that the Mavs had also struck a six-year deal with C DeSagana Diop for roughly $30 million. That would be the salary-cap anchor.

Hey, we love DeSagana Diop, that’s just way too much money.

Gerald Green Photo Credit: Icon SMI

In their embarrassing first-round loss to the New Orleans Hornets the Dallas Mavericks looked as old and creaky as they have at any point in the Dirk Nowitzki era. They were getting out-hustled, out-run, out-gunned, out-blocked and out-dunked.

They looked tired. Decrepit. Unathletic. Unexciting.

Meanwhile 22-year-old Gerald Green has as much raw athleticism and explosiveness as any player in the National Basketball Association, and that’s not even a bold statement. It’s just a fact: the young man is spectacularly gifted. If you’re a Boston Celtics or Minnesota Timberwolves fan, or if you’ve watched either of the last two NBA Dunk contests (one of which Green won), you know this. Unfortunately for Gerald there’s more to professional basketball than high-flying acrobatics with the ball in your hands. There’s also a little something called defense, and it’s this phase of the game which has completely escaped him to date.

Count me among those who believe the kid can still become a passable defender, and that with a modest improvement there his offensive talent can more than outweigh those shortcomings. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: given 30+ minutes Gerald Green can be an 18+ PPG scorer in the next few seasons (he’s averaged 16 points in 29 career starts). The 6-8 swingman has the necessary skills: a feathery outside jumper, explosive leaping ability, a quick first step, good size and the capability to rise over defenders, a desire to be great (on offense) and the ability to stop-and-pop on a dime. That raw agility, quickness and athleticism also means he could become at least a serviceable defender with the proper coaching and work ethic.

37-year-old Eddie Jones has exercised the option on his contract (even if Dallas wishes he hadn’t) so he’ll be back for a 15th season. The Mavs shouldn’t expect much from Jones. He’s no longer a plus defender, he can’t stay healthy and on offense he shot a putrid 36.7% FGs, 71.4% FTs and 29.3% from three-point range. The man is done. The 34-year-old Jerry Stackhouse is falling off a cliff nearly as fast. Josh Howard disappeared in the playoffs, and he’s rumored to be on the trading block after his public admission of marijuana use during the playoffs drew the ire of the franchise. The swingman situation in Dallas is dire. On top of that, this team needs to get younger and start to play for the post-Jason Kidd era, which will begin the day their season ends in 2008-09.

Who knows if Green will finally get his head screwed on straight after three forgettable years in the league, but it won’t cost the Mavs much to give him a shot. Given his proclivity for dramatic aerial assault, if Gerald Green earns his minutes I have no doubt he will quickly become a fan favorite. And it’s not like Green is a locker-room cancer or has significant off-court troubles, so the risk is very small. The rewards are potentially great.

Related: Gerald Green, Dallas Mavericks, DeSagana Diop, Dirk Nowitzki

4 CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Jul. 2, 2008 at 8:21pm in NBA

Beno Udrih Scores Big with Sacramento Kings

July 2, 2008

The Kings have committed to Beno UdrihBeno Udrih got a new lease on his NBA life last season with the Sacramento Kings, and now he has his first big NBA contract to go with it.

The Sacramento Bee reports the 6-3 point guard, who’ll turn 26 years old on Saturday, has signed a five-year deal to stay in Sacramento that will pay him approximately $30 million in all. Udrih joined the Kings relatively early last season after a three-year stint on the bench with the San Antonio Spurs by way of the Minnesota Timberwolves (more on that in a second). With incumbent starter Mike Bibby sitting it out with a broken hand, Udrih stepped right into the starting lineup and played surprisingly well for a player few had put any stock into.

Bibby was eventually dealt to the Atlanta Hawks, and Udrih will now be the main man running the show. In 65 games with the Kings, Udrih averaged 12.8 points, 4.3 assists, 3.3 boards, 46% FG, and 2.3 turnovers in 32 minutes.

Beno Udrih Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Those aren’t exactly standout stats, but Udrih is a smart player who plays within himself and should improve next year with a full season now under his belt playing extensive minutes in the NBA; over his first three campaigns he averaged just 12 minutes/per and was hardly asked to shoulder any kind of load while he was out there.

With Bibby gone, Ron-Ron regretting not opting out of his contract and likely on his way out via trade, and three new draft picks joining the fold (headlined by 12th overall pick Jason Thompson), the Kings are well on their way towards weeding out the bad seeds and retooling their approach. I personally love their direction and was pleasantly surprised by the results first-year head coach Reggie Theus got from his underachieving crew last season.

It shouldn’t go without mention as to how, exactly, Udrih landed with the Kings in the first place. Yes, he signed as an unrestricted free agent, but that happened courtesy of one of the most bone-headed, under-the-radar roster moves of the 2007-08 season… and surprise surprise it was made by our good friend Kevin McHale. Approximately, oh, 5 minutes after sending a second-round pick to the Spurs in exchange for Udrih, McHale waived him. Waived him. Udrih. A guy now the starting PG for the Kings. With Bassy Telfair in the mix there apparently just wasn’t enough room for Udrih in the Minnesota backcourt. Nevermind that the Wolves are S.O.L. at the moment as far as a backup PG behind Randy Foye…

For some reason this move never really got much press, but we’re here to remind you, boys and girls, that it in fact did happen and that McHale is in fact one of the densest GMs in all of professional basketball. And with that, I congratulate you, Beno Udrih, and wish you a prosperous stay in Sacramento.

Related: Beno Udrih, Sacramento Kings, Kevin McHale, Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Ron Artest, Mike Bibby

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jul. 2, 2008 at 6:10pm in NBA

Welcome Home, Baron Davis: Now Kindly Rescue Our Foundering Clipper Ship

July 2, 2008

Baron Davis is Sad
Baron Davis Photo Credit: Icon SMI

The Donald Sterling era has not been kind to Clippers fans from Buffalo to Los Angeles. Since the real estate mogul acquired the team in 1981 for $12.5 million they have been a depressing paradigm of hopelessness. This has never been what you would call a “proud franchise,” but few professional sports teams can match the level of futility that has become synonymous with these Clips. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1984, and since then they have managed a better record than the crosstown Lakers just twice and made only four playoff appearances – meeting hasty elimination in the first round thrice.

After a 16-year drought the team made the postseason under Larry Brown in 1992, but lost in the first round to the Utah Jazz. They made the playoffs again the following season and were met with another first-round thrashing, this time at the hands of Hakeem Olajuwon and the Houston Rockets. After a few more poor seasons Los Angeles managed to sneak into the playoffs in a weak West with a losing record in 1997. Once again, they were swept by the Jazz in the first round.

The pathetic product trotted onto the court has been the product of a combination of poor management and stubborn refusal by the stingy Mr. Sterling to invest in the Clippers. Injuries and misfortune have played their role, sure, but Mr. Sterling’s stinginess has been primarily responsible for the dismal state of this team.

It appears he’s finally trying to shed his image as an owner who just doesn’t give a shit.

In the last few years the Clippers have opened a state-of-the-art practice facility in Playa Vista, they’ve brokered new television deals with local stations, they’ve appeared on national television more than ever before and they’ve signed a few free agents. Don’t look now, but the Los Angeles Clippers might actually be trying their hand at competitiveness.

Things appeared to turn around for this beleaguered franchise in the 2005-06 season, when they made a nice playoff run with the leadership of stud PF Elton Brand. That season they went all the way to the Western Conference semi-finals, losing to the Phoenix Suns in seven games. They posted their first winning record in 14 seasons and things were looking up. But a number of injuries kept them out of the postseason the last two years. The newfound momentum was petering out. Just days ago they were threatening to hit bottom again with Elton Brand and Corey Maggette looking to bolt.

Queue hometown hero Baron Davis: franchise savior.

After the jump: The Clips are suddenly a fun team to watch…

Read the rest of this article »

1 CommentPosted by Andrew Thell on Jul. 2, 2008 at 4:29pm in NBA

Baron Davis and Elton Brand are Officially on the NBA Free Agent Market

July 1, 2008

Elton Brand is a free agentBaron Davis and Elton Brand will still likely find a big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, perhaps as soon as this afternoon, but as it stands these two perennial All-Stars will wake up this morning having said “no thanks” to a guaranteed $34 million between them.

That’s how much they would have made during this upcoming season—Davis was due $17.8 million from Golden State, Brand a cool $16.4 million courtesy of the Clippers—before opting out of their respective deals and declaring themselves open for business on the first day of the NBA’s summer free agency bonanza.

Well, let’s backtrack. For the first year in some time this year’s free-agent class isn’t an especially exciting one. It’s like a bland slice of pizza that tastes like cardboard but does the job at 1:30am after a night at the local watering hole: not much nutrition, doesn’t do much for you in the long run, but is a decent stop gap for warding off a hangover.

Elton Brand Photo Credit: Icon SMI

Until Davis and Brand entered the fray, the most interesting names out there from our view aren’t players that are going to come in and save a franchise: SG/SF Corey Maggette, PG Beno Udrih, SF James Posey, SG/SF Ricky Davis, SG/SF Mickael Pietrus… hell, in today’s point-guard needy NBA one might even say that Sebastian Telfair will be somewhat “in demand.” Gilbert Arenas is out there too, but it’s looking more and more likely that Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld is intent on retaining his services and throwing $100+ million at Agent Zero to do so. We think that’s money more better spent elsewhere, but then the Wizards have long been a team content to wallow in mediocrity so resigning him to a lucrative deal makes complete sense.

The list of restricted free agents is considerably more loaded, but we really don’t anticipate much movement from that class. As most of you know, every restricted free agent’s current team has the right to match any offer said player receives from another team. That makes the chances of Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala, Monta Ellis, Emeka Okafor, Andris Biedrins, et al changing locales under any circumstances save for a sign-and-trade deal rather unlikely.

So what becomes of Baron Davis and Elton Brand? Davis could, of course, return to Golden State, though that doesn’t seem like his first choice at the moment. Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski (one of our favorite NBA writers) reports the Clippers are wooing Davis and have hopes of resigning Brand too. This is the Los Angeles Clippers we’re talking about, however, a franchise well known for bungling big opportunities and squandering big-time talent, so we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if instead of landing both of these guys they signed neither. As Wojnarowski points out, however, the Clips could have about $26 million to split between Brand and Davis so it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Some think that B-Diddy may be eyeing the New York Knicks as a potential new employer, though for that to happen the Knickerbockers would need to find a way to wriggle out of Stephon Marbury’s $20 million salary for the 2008-09 season. Given his fledgling movie ambitions, we’re inclined to say Davis wants to stay near Hollywood, so the Clippers do make some sense. Other possibilities include the Memphis Grizzlies (very unlikely) and perhaps the Philadelphia 76ers, though they already have an above-average PG in Andre Miller and would likely pursue Brand first with their cap space.

The most sensible options for Brand (read: teams with money) are to either stay with the Clippers, which he has repeatedly hinted at, or perhaps heading back to the Eastern Conference and signing on with the up-and-coming 76ers, who made great strides last season and would have to be considered strong contenders next year with a lineup headlined by Brand, Miller, Iguodala, Samuel Dalembert, and Thaddeus Young. The 29-year-old, 6-8 Brand is exactly the kind of dedicated post-up big man the team needs, and it would seem an enticing possibility for Brand if he’s intent on winning a title. The 76ers would still have some serious work to do on that front, but we all know that advanced civilizations on another planet will be discovered long before the Clippers win a NBA championship.

There are also sign-and-trade possibilities for both Brand and Davis; I recently outlined one scenario that saw Brand winding up in Detroit (admittedly somewhat unlikely). Whatever happens, both of these ETB favorites will be handsomely paid, but it still takes some cajones to throw two sheets to the wind and politely decline a $16+ million salary.

Related: Baron Davis, Elton Brand, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Clippers, Gilbert Arenas, Philadelphia 76ers

2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Jul. 1, 2008 at 8:12am in NBA

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