Thursday, July 7, 2011
New Jersey Nets PG Deron Williams has left the building! The Nets star has agreed in principle, to a deal that will become official in the next 24 hours, to play in Turkey for Club Besiktas. The deal has been confirmed through the team by Head Coach Ergin Ataman, after rumors began on Turkish television last evening.
The dollar signs of the deal have yet to be announced but the contract will include an "opt-out" clause, in the event that the lockout is lifted in the future. Williams a two-time All Star, who has two years remaining on a $34 million contract, hangs his need to play on the desire to win and stay active as his current team has building blocks that they need to address. After the Carmelo Anthony race fell through for the club, they have assured Williams that they will make a hard sell to Dwight Howard when he becomes a free-agent this summer. So we shall see exactly what happens when the lockout is lifted.
The Besiktas team is the same team that signed former NBA star Allen Iverson to a two year deal that became a fiasco of injuries and ultimately a second retirement for Iverson. Besiktas President Seref Yalcin will be in the U.S. for a press conference to announce the signing next week with Williams. Coah Ataman added “If there’s a possibility, we’ll talk with Kobe if he’d like to play in Europe with Deron and with other guys to play we can talk with him,” Ataman said. “If Kobe would like to play with us, we will also contact his agent and maybe with him.”
Ahhhh, as the life of a pro athlete turns!!
Saturday, April 16, 2011
It's that time of the year again! When the flowers are blooming, NFL players should be attending mini-camps, baseball is in swing and the NBA playoffs begin. This is also the time of year when I pul out all of my tattered notes, pads and crunch the numbers to see who survives as the rounds of playoff basketball go on.
1 BULLS v. 8 PACERS-The Bulls ended the regular season with the best record in the league, 62-20, just one win ahead of the Spurs. They are a young team but a team with a budding superstar in Derrick Rose (25ppg, 4rpg, 8apg & 1spg), who leads all odds on being named the youngest NBA MVP later this season. What makes the Bulls even more of an oddity is their defensive grip. Coached by defensive guru Tom Thibodeau, the genius behind the Celtics 2008 championship season, the are a team that limits opponents to the league best 91ppg (tied with the Celtics). They are also tops in rebounding, (44rpg) and they know how to take care of the ball. The Pacers are a great upstart team and caught fire after team president Larry Bird fired Jim O'Brien and handed the reins to interim Coach Frank Vogel. The Pacers are led by F Danny Granger (21ppg) and PG Darren Collison (13ppg & 5apg). As long as F Carlos Boozer (17ppg) and G Luol Deng (17ppg) continue their solid play, the Bulls will be too much for the Pacers, who have made these playoffs for the first time in five seasons, and will have no trouble moving on into round two. Riding a 9 game win streak coming in they will remain unblemished. Bulls in 4.
4 MAGIC v. 5 HAWKS-Led by Dwight Howard (23ppg, 14rpg & 2bpg), the #1 rebounder in the league, Orlando managed to land the 4th playoff spot this season. Howard has posted career numbs this season and I don't see any reason that he won't be abler to best those numbers in this first round of the playoffs against Atlanta. Neither team really strikes me as going beyond the 2nd round as they both are missing the heart and passion that it takes to win in the playoffs. The Hawks, losers of six straight games to end the season, have G Joe Johnson (18ppg, 4rpg & 5apg) frustrated year after year but he continues to take the punishment and return. He lacks the second and third players that he can trust and it was evident on a nightly basis this season. If Howard stays healthy but suffers his normal sickness of foul trouble then that could spell problems as well as the Magic supporting staff are at best, a list of streaky underachievers that again lack passion. The Hawks have a few undersized bangers that could get under his skin and have him riding the pine, so we will see. Otherwise, unless Howard breaks his leg jumping out his LandRover on 26's, the Magic shouldn't have a problem moving on. Magic in 4
3 CELTICS v. 6 KNICKS-On paper this series looks like it will be the series to order some wings, pop a few beers and kick back and take in, but I don't think it will live up the the paper-hype. The Celtics are still just as defensive minded as they always have been, as they finished #1 tied with the Bulls for the stingiest defense (91ppg). They still have the "Big Three Plus 1" and eat, sleep and drink basketball. Out of all the teams in the league they have the highest basketball I.Q. and desire to win, maybe with Kobe and his Boys running a close second. "Mr. Passion-Bucket" F Kevin Garnett (15ppg, 9rpg & 2apg) leads the emotional charge nightly and it is going to take all of the Knicks bench to attempt to match him. G Paul Pierce (19ppg, 5rpdg, 3apg, 1spg) and G Ray Allen (17ppg, 3rpg, 3apg; 44% from 3) cannot be left alone beyond the perimeter with the guns that they have, and the experience to know when to toss it inside when trapped. The X-Factor in the series is going to be the youngster, PG Rajon Rondo (11ppg, 4rpg, 11apg & 2spg). This kid is a mini-Pippen as he fills the stat sheet in a way not seen since the days Pippen roamed the court in Chicago and Portland. The Knicks look to finally be putting together a team that can win for many years, but the cohesion is not there yet and the playoffs are the wrong time to try and find it. Behind C Amare Stoudemire (25ppg, 8rpg & 3apg) and newly acquired G/F Carmelo Anthony (26ppg, 7rpg & 6apg) and "Mr. Big-Stuff" PG Chanucey Billups (18ppg, 3rpg & 6apg), the Knicks will be a force to reckoned with in a season or two when they adapt to Head Coach D' Antoni and his wild west system but not this year. The lack of defense will do them in. C's in 5.
2 HEAT v. 7 SIXERS-After all the talent being taken to South Beach, the crying after games and Pat riley being rumored to step in and coach, the Heat finished the season in second place, winning their last four games. They didn't go 82-0 but, hey even Jordan could only manage 72 with his cast. F/G LeBron James (27ppg, 8rpg, 7apg & 2spg) and G Dwayne Wade (26ppg, 6rpg, 5apg, 1spg) have been a great tandem all season even through the growing pains that they experienced early. They have won the hearts of South beach and have made many forget who Dan Gilbert is or what he has had to say. The "King" will be out for revenge all playoff long as he attempts to rid himself of the bad taste of defeat that the Celtics left him with last season Cleveland. Outside of C/F Chris Bosh (19ppg, 8rpg & 2apg) the heat suffer from no-bench-itis and having witnessed how badly the team plays when the stars on resting that is cause for major concern in Miami. The Sixers, led by F Andre Iguodala (14ppg, 6rpg, 6apg & 2spg) and C/F Elton Brand (15ppg & 8rpg) enter the playoffs hungry for a win. They have a team full of young inexperienced players who have yet to feel the pressure when Miami goes "white hot" and playoff basketball is stepped up a notch. Don't think this series will reveal any surprises unless of course one of the three that make up the heat offense are injured. If that happens, then they would be ripe for the picking by a .500 team like the Sixers, who could play hard and will themselves to a first round win. But "If" is a big word and not one that will help them this round. Heat in 4.
1 SPURS v. 8 GRIZZLIES- The elite team of the Western Conference takes on the worst team of the conference teams that made the playoffs, the Grizzlies. Memphis playing in it's first series since 2006 will be arriving without G Rudy Gay (20ppg, 6rpg, 3apg, 2spg) as he is out with a partial left shoulder separation. Even though they have been able to play well enough to make the playoffs. His overall experience will be missed even though he also has not felt playoff fever. With or without Gay, the Grizz are facing one of the most complete teams in the league, in the Spurs. With the second best record in the league the Spurs are always a huge piece of the playoff puzzle year after year. This playoff run is their 14th straight post season appearance, the longest in the league. As they follow their leader, "The Big Fundamental" Tim Duncan (13ppg, 9rpg, 3apg, 2bpg) the Spurs are one of the oldest teams in the playoffs and that breeds playoff experience, which is NBA Gold, this time of the year. PG Tony Parker (18ppg, 3rpg, 6apg,& 1spg) and G Manu Ginobili (17ppg, 4rpg, 5apg, & 2spg) will aide Duncan in his quest for his fifth NBA Championship. The Spurs shoot from beyond the arch at a 40% clip and are much more athletic than the younger Grizzlies. C/F Zach Randolph (20ppg & 12rpg) will not be able to d-up on Duncan and will watch all series long as Duncan shows him why he has garnered the nickname he has. it will be a long, but quick series for the Grizzlies but they will learn and be able to use it next season. Spurs in 4.
4 THUNDER v. 5 NUGGETS-This series would be much more interesting if Melo was still in Denver with the other half of the team that was shuffled off to NY with him, but he isn't and neither are they so it doesn't matter. G/F Kevin Durant (28ppg, 7rpg, 2apg & 1spg) and PG Russell Westbrook (22ppg, 5rpg, 8apg & 2spg) are the straws that stir the drink in Oklahoma City and they make for a very intoxicating drink if either of them get hot. Denver has never been known for their defensive prowess, or for that matter any Western Conference team, but especially the Nuggets. With no Melo or Chauncey, it's going to be a hard road for them. They led the league in scoring (107ppg) but also allow the highest amount (102ppg). So it has to be a shootout in Denver and Oklahoma City and the Thunder have the shooter and weapons to come out after the high noon show downs as winners. Easy one here, Thunder in 6.
3 MAVS v. 6 BLAZERS-The Mavs, tied for second with the Lakers in wins in the West face off against the Blazers. The Blazers pulled a David Copperfield right before the trade deadline and snatched F Gerald Wallace (16ppg, 8rpg, 3apg & 2spg) from Charlotte and haven't looked back as LeMarcus Aldridge (22ppg, 9rpg & 2apg) has made mincemeat of the competition. Although the season series was spilt, 2-2, the Mavericks still have F Dirk Nowitzki (23ppg, 7rpg & 3apg) and his European game. He is streaky, but like a size six bikini on a size 10 body, when he's on, he's on! BEWARE! With 7 players averaging double figures, the Blazers will give the Mavs some trouble but as long as Dirk and his support staff handle the onslaught and play their game, they will be fine. The four game win streak to end the season will be halted, but not the advance to the next round for Dallas. Mavs in 7.
2 LAKERS v. 7 HORNETS-Now the defending Champs.....the Los Lakers! Finishing tied with the Mavs for second in the West, the Lakers look to Three-peat and make clowns of the rest of the league. They have been a great performer as spoiler to many great stories, but Phil always manages to have them in the right frame of mind when mid April rolls around. The Hornets hit a late season slide losing their last three of the regular season, a time when you want to appear as strong as possible. Knowing that the Hornets are without the services of G David West ( 19ppg, 8rpg & 2apg) as he is recovering from an ACL injury sustained late in the season. After his departure, PG Chris Paul (16ppg, 4rpg, 10apg & 2spg) stepped up his play, as usual, but I don't think that his play alone will be enough to disrupt the focus of 'The Black Mamba". The Lakers lead the league in rebounding (44rpg) with C/F Pau Gasol (19ppg, 10rpg, 3apg & 2bpg) and C Andrew Bynum (11ppg, 9rpg, 1apg & 2bpg) doing the brunt of the damage. G/F Kobe Bryant (25ppg, 5rpg, 5apg & 1apg), as all knows can take over a game when he feels like it and that is the mountain that the Hornets will have to climb. Bryant has showed in the championship years that he trusts his teammates and will ensure that they receive the ball in the best position possible and that is enough for nightmares on the court and in slumber in the local hotel for Hornets players. In order to frustrate Bryant, the Hornets must have a defender only concerned with Bryant. Nothing else. He must body up to him, grab and hold, run him into picks and frustrate the hell out of him all series long. Bryant has a screw that can be turned to make him step outside of the "politically correct Kobe", and we all know hat occurs when that screw is turned. Good or bad!, just ask referee Bennie Adams! lol
On the court he is a general, that takes no shit, nothing less of your best and then 3/3 more! He is the epitome of basketball and the passion that it embodies for a true "baller" and fan. It is hard to bet against Phil....Kobe...The Laker Organization...Dr. Buss....the Zen following..and/or L.A., as they are in control of the Larry O'Brien trophy until the finals are completed in 2011. Betting against the Lakers are like betting against Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57..."Well, let me give you a little piece of advice: Always bet on black!", and I put my money on The Black Mamba! Lakers in 5.
There you have it. I may be wrong but I may be right, ask Billy Joel! Playoffs are to be enjoyed and this years will be that! Game on, NBA! With the NFL "slap-boxing" about money and "rights" amongst millionaires that I have no time to argue with, I say shine and make your league become the "past-time" that football used to be.