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ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series – Matt Watson of AOL FanHouse and Detroit Bad Boys

September 30, 2008

Matt Watson talks Detroit Pistons and NBA hoops with ETB

Detroit Pistons Photo Credit: Icon SMI

It’s unofficially Detroit Pistons Week here at ETB, with one or two random videos on tap as well as tender fireside chats with two of the most well-recognized names in the blogosphere when it comes to covering anything and everything that is the Pistons.

Kicking things off as the latest writer to be front and center in our ongoing Scribes of the NBA Interview Series is Matt Watson, mastermind behind Detroit Bad Boys and one of the leading columnists for that sports behemoth known as NBA FanHouse. Watson got his start writing for The Roto Times and Fantasy Hot Sheet, moved on to penning fantasy sports columns for USA Today online, and launched Detroit Bad Boys back in ’05.

We’re thrilled to have him–as you’ll see, the man knows his Pistons (and his NBA). Later this week we’ll feature another Pistons expert, Natalie Sitto of Need4Sheed.com. We’re psyched for that one too, but first things first: let’s hear from Mr. Matt Watson.

Empty the Bench: Despite the six straight appearances in the Conference Finals, the core of this Detroit Pistons team has gone to the NBA Finals only twice and won it all just once. Is it a fair to say this group has developed a reputation for choking under pressure?

Matt Watson: This is a difficult question to answer. On the one hand, yes, this team has definitely squandered some opportunities; that’s impossible to deny. But on the other hand, it’s really, really hard to win a title. In the last 25 years, only seven different teams have done it. Think about that: seven teams in 25 years.

Since the Pistons last won in 2004, they’ve gone on to lose to the eventual champion three times in four years. Did they choke, or were they simply not the better team? Considering teams simply don’t win on accident in this league, I think it’s the latter.

In a perfect world, I’ll admit that the Pistons should have at least one more ring on their fingers–I’m still in shock that Rasheed left Horry open–but I can’t hold it against them. Since losing to Detroit in 2004, the Lakers missed the playoffs completely in 2005, lost in the first round the next two years, and lost again in the Finals last year. After beating the Pistons (and in turn the Mavericks) in 2006, the Heat proceeded to lose in the first round the following season and posted the worst record in the league last year. From a fan’s perspective, who’s been the most fun to cheer for? (The correct answer, of course, is San Antonio, but Detroit has to be second, right?)

ETB: At times seeming disinterested and often being outhustled and embarrassed by Kevin Garnett, what do you make of Rasheed Wallace’s disappearing act in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals?

Watson: I wish I knew the answer. Considering he averaged his fewest minutes per game in a decade during the regular season, I figured he’d have something left in reserve for the playoffs. Instead, the more the Pistons needed him, the more he faded.

His showing in the final game against the Celtics was a complete disaster. I know some people have tried to use his strained relationship with Flip Saunders as an excuse, but if anything Saunders erred by giving Wallace too much respect. Wallace clearly didn’t deserve to play 32 minutes in Game 6, especially after showing up late to shootaround and the arena before the game.

ETB: Is this Sheed’s last season with the Detroit Pistons? Any chance he calls it a day next summer?

Watson: I think it is. There’s talk that Rasheed will see even fewer minutes this season… but he averaged only 30.5 minutes per game last year. How few does he have to average to still be effective come playoff time? To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if Joe Dumars pulls off a blockbuster at the trade deadline; between Wallace’s expiring contract and Rip Hamilton’s early-termination option, that’s $24.2 million of potential cap space. That’s enough to make a play for, well, anybody.

As far as next year and the future, I just don’t think he wants to battle for 36 minutes a night over an entire season anymore, which is what most teams will want if they’re paying him anything close to what he’s making now. If he does play next year, I’m guessing he goes to a team where he’d complement a dominant big man and doesn’t have to carry the load. Maybe home to Philly, next to Elton Brand? Or maybe Orlando, next to “his intern” Dwight Howard?

Much more NBA hoops talk from Matt Watson after the break…

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2 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 30, 2008 at 8:39am in Interviews, NBA

ETB’s Sea Hammock of the Week for Week 4 – Cowboys Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett

September 29, 2008

Jason Garrett Owes You

Forget Dallas Cowboys fans: Jason Garrett owes Marion Barber III owners an apology. Barber’s miniscule production on Sunday cost a lot of us a win, but it wasn’t Barber’s fault.

It’s easy to deride an OC when he doesn’t give you the fantasy results you want. Every week we see fullbacks and backup tight ends stealing coveted touchdowns from our fantasy studs, touchdowns that we feel are owed to us. But the fact of the matter is they call plays to win games and the exploits of our pretend fantasy leagues and the imaginary points involved do not and should not have any bearing on their decision making (even if the monetary implications of said leagues are very real).

It’s when an offensive coordinator doesn’t call plays in the best interest of his team and it kills our fantasy players that we have a legitimate gripe. When the Dallas Cowboys get stunned at home by the Washington Redkins in a two-point loss and a healthy Marion Barber only gets 8 carries, we’re justified in calling Garrett out.

I mean, come on! 8!

The Redskins didn’t stop the Cowboys from running the ball–the Cowboys just didn’t even try. You can’t win football games by calling only ten running plays compared to 47 passes. It’s inexcusable. Christ, Barber is the most physical running back in the league! He’s a goddamn animal. The man is a bona fide sadomasochist. Feed him the ball!

And what the hell happened to Felix Jones? The rookie is averaging a ludicrous 8.2 YPC this season and he doesn’t even touch the ball on offense? Really? Terrell Owens had more carries than Jones for chrissakes.

Dallas lost the time of possession battle 38:09 to 21:51 because of this bizarre and sudden refusal to run the damn ball, and fantasy owners were left holding the bag. Marion Barber III tallied just 37 total yards of offense. In a week where his projected Yahoo! Rank was 2, that’s about as disappointing as a healthy first-round pick can be. Don’t blame Barber, though, because it’s hard to get into a rhythm and wear a defense down when you only touch the ball once or twice a quarter. Garrett knows that.

Jason, you let us down. You, kind sir, are ETB’s Sean Hammock of the Week for Week 4.

Past Sea Hammocks of the Week:
- Week 1 Sea Hammock – Tom Brady
- Week 2 Sea Hammock – Hurricane Ike
- Week 3 Sea Hammock – Ronnie Brown

Jason Garrett Photo Credit: Icon SMI

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell on Sep. 29, 2008 at 10:22am in NFL, NFL Fantasy News

NBA Photo Friday – A C.H.U.D. Drags Zach Randolph Off the Floor By His Feet

September 26, 2008

Zach Randolph Photo Credit: Icon SMI

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 26, 2008 at 7:23am in NBA

Fantasy Football – Week 4 Position Ranks

September 25, 2008

Philip Rivers has been rolling for the Chargers

Philip Rivers Photo Credit: Icon SMI

The NFL has been shaped by a rather dull narrative–if there even is one–since the Tom Brady injury, no? There’ve been some spectacular individual performances and some thrilling, high-scoring ballgames, but all in all this season seems to just kind of be limping along at the moment without much intrigue or suspense. Matt Millen getting canned is a big story, though.

As usual, however, things have been predictably haywire in fantasy football. Despite the two short TDs last week, LaDainian Tomlinson has been underwhelming. Adrian Peterson has yet to find the endzone. Aaron Rodgers is a must-start every week at the moment. Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler are the two top fantasy QBs, while Marc Bulger is ranked somewhere just below the Raiders’ water boy. It promises to get even kookier this weekend with the reappearance of those dreaded bye weeks: New England, Indianapolis, Detroit, Miami, New York Giants, and Seattle all have the week off, so have fun trying to fill those holes on your roster. (I’m personally screwed on one team in Week 4 with Reggie Wayne, Roy Williams, NYG Def, Anthony Gonzalez, and Kevin Smith all on my bench.)

But never fear, as always ETB is here to guide you through the ins and outs of your weekly fantasy football dilemmas. We’re like that camp guidance counselor who was always willing to lend you a hand–literally–no matter what hour of the day…

Fantasy Week 4 – Top 20 Quarterbacks

Romo Knows Rock

1. Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos @ KC
2. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers @ OAK
3. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs. WSH
4. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals vs. CLE
5. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles @ CHI
6. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints vs. SF
7. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals @ NYJ
8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers @ TB
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. BAL
10. Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins @ DAL
11. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills @ STL
12. Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns @ CIN
13. Brett Favre, New York Jets vs. ARZ (Check Status)
14. Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers vs. ATL
15. David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. HOU
16. Brian Griese, Tampa Bay Bucs vs. GB
17. J.T. O’Sullivan, San Francisco 49ers @ NO
18. Matt Schaub, Houston Texans @ JAX
19. Kerry Collins, Tennessee Titans vs. MIN
20. Trent Green, St. Louis Rams vs. BUF

Rest of the Week 4 fantasy football ranks after the break…

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No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 25, 2008 at 4:48pm in Fantasy Rankings, NFL, NFL Fantasy News

Matt Millen, One of the Worst GMs in the History of Professional Sports, Finally Fired

September 24, 2008

Matt Millen, NFL GM

Matt Millen Photos Credit: Icon SMI

Detroit Lions fans finally have something to cheer about.

It’s not a Super Bowl win, it’s not a playoffs win… it’s not even a winning record. All of those things would be nice, but by now the Lions faithful know better. They don’t ask for much and they don’t expect much. Year after year after year of football futility at its worst has gradually worn them down like an old chunk of weathered granite on a salty ocean shore.

They’ve learned to live with the losing, and the Thanksgiving Day embarassments, and the worthless draft picks. The inept coaching staffs and the shoddy gameplans and the washed-up players. With the poor tackling, swinging door defenses, and penalties. Oh, how Lions fans have grown to expect those penalty flags rather than be angered by them.

Detroit Lions fans are a resilient bunch, and though the lack of success on the field might leave them drunk, bitter, and disgusted on autumn Sunday afternoons like clockwork, most of them pick up the paper the next morning, laugh it all off in an exasperated chuckle, then do it over again next Sunday… even if just to see what could possibly happen next. (And it usually does.)

But there’s been one steady constant during this latest string of dark days of Lions football that no fan has ever learned to accept. His name is Matt Millen, he’s been the architect behind the joke of a team that trots onto Ford Field eight times a year, and up until now he was the dictionary definition of “Failed NFL GM.”

Now he’s just another schmuck in a long line of schmucks who’ve smeared their dirty hands all over the Detroit Lions franchise before being shown the door, never to be heard from again. Matt Millen, the worst GM in pro sports over the last decade–maybe ever–has been fired.

Say it with me now, Lions fans, and know that we collectively speaketh the truth: Matt Millen has been fired. He’s gone. He’s done. He’s history. Ding dong the dickhead is dead.

More on former Detroit Lions GM Matt Millen after the break…

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No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 24, 2008 at 11:31am in ETB Articles, NFL

ETB’s Sea Hammock of the Week for Week 3 – Miami Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown

September 22, 2008

Ronnie Brown, Sea HammockWell, Ronnie Brown, that was really obnoxious.

Through the first two weeks of this NFL season, the Dolphins’ former stud RB had amassed a total of 17 carries for 48 yards, 5 catches for 47 yards, and 1 TD in playing second fiddle to everybody’s favorite “ex-stoner” Ricky Williams. This was a classic running back by committee situation, with neither one of these backs warranting any sort of serious fantasy attention. One is coming off a serious season-ending knee injury (Brown), the other off a mental and physical hiatus from professional football (Williams).

Chad Pennington is the starting QB, the offensive line is one of the league’s worst, and as a whole the team hadn’t won a regular season game since December 10, 2006. Move along, nothing to see here, you have better options at RB.

And, then… 4 rushing touchdowns. And 1 passing touchdown. From Ronnie Brown, the backup running back. On the road, against the mighty New England Patriots. On the day, Brown finished with 17 carries for 113 yards, 1 catch for 9 yards, and 19 yards passing to go along with those 5 TDs. In ETB’s fantasy scoring format, that amounts to 37.42 points. Wow.

Here’s the problem, Ronnie: all those touchdowns did no good for your owners because you were in all likelihood riding their bench. Cheers to those “wise” enough to start you, but they’re most definitely in the minority.

You flat out sea-hammocked them, Ronnie. Put a flaming bag of feces on their doorstep. Defecated all over their fantasy football confidence. Sea-hammocked them. That kind of garbage is for the birds, Ronnie. It’s for the birds. And so it’s with great displeasure that we name you, Ronnie Brown, ETB’s Sea Hammock of the Week for Week 3. Screw you dude.

Past Sea Hammocks of the Week:
- Week 1 Sea Hammock – Tom Brady
- Week 2 Sea Hammock – Hurricane Ike

Ronnie Brown Photo Credit: Icon SMI

1 CommentPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 22, 2008 at 6:49pm in NFL, NFL Fantasy News

NBA Photo Friday – Scottie Pippen is Just Happy Somebody Wants to Take His Picture

September 19, 2008

No CommentsPosted by Andrew Thell and Brian Spencer on Sep. 19, 2008 at 1:43pm in NBA

Mark Cuban Exposes Racist Scumbags

September 19, 2008

Mark Cuban: The joke's on you, you racist lowlifesAs you’ve probably heard by now, Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard made headlines this week with his off-the-cuff referendum on the National Anthem. Honestly, we don’t think it warrants much mention or analysis. It was a dumb statement by a young athlete.

Mark Cuban’s brilliant, thoughtful response on Blog Maverick, however, is most certainly of note. It starts off innocently enough, with Cuban seemingly striking a gracious tone to those readers who’ve reached out to him with advice on how to deal with Howard:

I wanted to thank all of you who took the time to email me with your comments on how best to deal with Josh. They were so good, I thought I would share a few of them with everyone. Including the email addresses of those who were bold enough to use real email addresses.

Josh realizes his comments were wrong, he understands why people are upset. He knows he has made a mistake, has apologized and will work with us . Beyond that, its a private issue. What about the people who gave me the following advice?

From there, Mr. Cuban goes on to post about 20 or so of these emails he received–verbatim, including the names and email addresses. What makes this so amazing is that these emails contain vile, disgusting rants by lowlife racists with nothing better to do with their time than offer up their unsolicited ignorance; how these people can figure out how to log onto the Internets, much less type an email and learn how to send it, is beyond me.

Despite this sad reminder that racism is still alive and well in some circles of the American population, score this one a significant, clever zinger for Mark Cuban. We’ve gone on record more than a few times here with our admiration for the passion and enthusiasm he brings to the game as the owner of a NBA franchise, but love him or hate him you have to applaud this bold response.

Kudos to you, Mr. Cuban… and if you recognize any of the names or email addresses on his list, make sure you remind them that next time they might want to keep their repulsive, hateful views disguised as faux-American patriotism to themselves.

Update: After posting the email addresses for the better part of the day on Friday, Cuban later took them down. You can read his thoughts on why he did so here.

Related Reading:
- Josh Howard Talks Pregame Routines, Mark Cuban, and the Pursuit of Happiness
- Mark Cuban is a Need4Sheed.com Fan
- Mark Cuban Interested in Chicago Cubs

Mark Cuban Photo Credit: Icon SMI

No CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 19, 2008 at 10:40am in NBA

Fantasy Football – Week 3 Position Ranks

September 18, 2008

Mike Shanahan congratulates Jay Cutler on topping ETB's Week 3 QB ranks

Jay Cutler Photo Credit: Icon SMI

No, that’s not a misprint: journeyman quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan really has cracked the Week 3 ranks as a top-20 fantasy football play this Sunday. And yes, we really do mean to rank him ahead of Carson Palmer. He’s never thrown a touchdown pass in the NFL, but at this early point in the season we’re ready to give just about anybody a shot when they’re facing those woeful Detroit Lions. Except for Tarvaris Jackson. Not you, Tarvaris. Not you.

It’s not the only thing in this week’s QB ranks that we couldn’t have predicted just two short weeks ago. For the first time ever the Denver Broncos’ Jay Cutler tops out at #1, which still doesn’t feel quite right. Given his herculean performance so far, however–650 yards passing, 6 TDs, 1 INT–and that he’s at home against a suspect Saints secondary, he deserves a shot at number one. And, once again, first-year starter Aaron Rodgers is a top-five play in our book. God help us all.

So here they are, ETB’s Week 3 fantasy football ranks. Now go out there and sea-hammock the shit out of your beleaguered adversary.

Fantasy Week 3: Top 20 Quarterbacks

Jessica Simpson is tossing Tony Romo's footballs

1. Jay Cutler, Denver Broncos vs. NO
2. Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts vs. JAX
3. Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys @ GB
4. Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles vs. PIT
5. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers vs. DAL
6. Eli Manning, New York Giants vs. CIN
7. Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints @ DEN
8. Kurt Warner, Arizona Cardinals @ WSH
9. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers @ PHI
10. Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers vs. NYJ
11. Derek Anderson, Cleveland Browns @ BAL
12. Brett Favre, New York Jets @ SD
13. J.T. O’Sullivan, San Francisco 49ers vs. DET
14. Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals @ NYG
15. Jake Delhomme, Carolina Panthers @ MIN
16. Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions @ SF
17. Trent Edwards, Buffalo Bills vs. OAK
18. Jason Campbell, Washington Redskins vs. ARZ
19. Matt Cassel, New England Patriots vs. MIA
20. Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams @ SEA

Rest of the Week 3 fantasy football ranks after the break…

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8 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 18, 2008 at 4:18pm in Fantasy Rankings, NFL, NFL Fantasy News

ETB’s Scribes of the NBA Interview Series – Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Part 2)

September 18, 2008

Adrian Wojnarowski from Yahoo! Sports talks NBA hoops in Part 2 of his ETB interview

A certain well-known head coach from the collegiate ranks found his hide slightly more tanned yesterday following Part 1 of our interview with best-selling author and Yahoo! Sports columnist Adrian Wojnarowski. In the second part of our virtual fireside chat with this titan of NBA writers, it’s certain recycled–and unnamed–league GMs taking a few jabs to the chin.

Of course, that’s just our juicy, gossipy hook: these interviews with Wojnarowski have mostly focused on the positive aspects and developments in this league we all love so dearly. As with all of the interviewees we’ve featured in our ongoing Scribes of the NBA Series, we owe a hearty thank you to Adrian for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk hoops with us.

Alright, let’s get to it: Part 2 of ETB’s interview with Yahoo! Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski.

ETB: There’s been lots of moving and shaking going on this summer. Between the draft, free agency, and trades what are your favorite moves on paper so far?

Wojnarowski: Elton Brand changes so much for the Sixers. Ed Stefanski did a great job to exploit that wedge between David Falk and the Clippers, create more cap space, and get that deal done. Philly adds Brand to such an intriguing, young nucleus in Philly.

Obviously I love New Orleans’ signing of James Posey. They had to overpay a little, but that’s the only way they were going to get him out of Boston. He’s exactly the winning, veteran presence that they needed on those two long off days between the Hornets’ Games 6 and 7 against the Spurs. And while he didn’t play much a year ago, the talent and growth of Julian Wright in New Orleans will be dramatic. He was a great pick late in the lottery for GM Jeff Bower and his assistant, Brian Hagen, a year ago. Once Wright blossoms this year to bolster that Hornets bench they are going to have a frightening array of weapons.

With a motivated Jermaine O’Neal, Toronto will return to the elite in the East. This was a good gamble by Bryan Colangelo. He is getting O’Neal at the right time in his career and the fact that he can play off Chris Bosh—and no longer needs to be the star—is a huge benefit for him.

A couple of smaller pickups that are underrated:

- The Spurs grabbed Roger Mason, who can score the ball off the bench.

- Marc Gasol is going to be a good NBA player for Memphis. I really was surprised by his versatility at the Olympics. I had thought he was just a bruiser, but he has some ‘stuff’ in his offensive game.

- Also, I think Darius Miles has done a lot of maturing. His knee appears better. Danny Ainge had nothing to lose bringing him into Boston. Finally, Miles will have some real peer mentoring around him. He had spent most of his career with knucklehead crews with the Clippers, Blazers, and Cavaliers. That said, Darius was one of the leading knuckleheads, so we’ll see.

- The move that DIDN’T happen that still blows me away: Why didn’t the Knicks give Zach Randolph’s contract to the Clippers when the Clips were far enough under the cap to not have to return any salary to New York? Donnie Walsh had a chance to shed that deal, take back no money, and he didn’t do it.

More good stuff in Part 2 of ETB’s interview with Adrian Wojnarowski after the break…

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3 CommentsPosted by Brian Spencer on Sep. 18, 2008 at 8:06am in Interviews, NBA

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